Florida leads nation in number of Capitol riot arrests

Attorney: Prosecuting everyone could take years

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida leads the nation with the number of residents arrested in connection with the Capitol Hill riots, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Sixty-six Floridians now face charges stemming from the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

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Twenty-six of them live in Central Florida.

“Many attorneys describe (representing their client) as being a full-time job and sort of all-consuming,” said attorney Jonathan Moseley.

Moseley represents Kelly Meggs, one of the leaders of Florida’s Oath Keepers.

Meggs was arrested by federal agents on Feb. 17, 2021, and he is waiting in a D.C. area jail for his trial to begin in April.

Mosely said defending Meggs is a big challenge because of the massive amount of evidence, videos and photos gathered by investigators.

“This is -- to my knowledge -- one of the first, big, social (media), cell phone, video revolution cases like this, to my mind,” he said. “It’s like nothing we’ve ever seen before because everyone now has a camera and their cell phone. So, there’s thousands of hours, plus body cam video. So, really, in so many ways, this case is different than anything we’ve seen before.”

“There is no reason why a criminal defense attorney wants to rush this case to a trial right now because there is so much information,” said federal criminal defense attorney Mark O’Mara.

O’Mara told News 6 he has been approached by some of the more than 700 people arrested nationally to represent them in their cases, but he has declined.

He was quick to point out that 97% of federal cases are resolved without making it to court.

He said using that math brings 700 potential trials down to just a few dozen.

COVID rules implemented in the D.C. federal court system have resulted in only three trials being conducted at any one time, so O’Mara predicts it could still take years to try everyone involved.

“They’re going to focus on those people who have sort of ‘led the charge’ and show the rest of the involved that this is what’s going to happen to your leadership. So, I do imagine that the prosecution is going to focus on those who seemed to take the lead in the charge,” he said.

About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.