One of the men who stormed the U.S. Capitol during a riot to protest the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidental election will spend time behind bars.
The sentence for Paul Hodgkins is the first for the 500 people charged in connection to the Jan. 6 riot on Capitol Hill. Hodgkins was in a Washington D.C. federal court on July 19 for his sentencing after pleading guilty to the felony of obstruction of an official proceeding.
The judge sentenced Hodgkins, of Florida, to eight months in jail.
The sentence will help set a baseline for the other defendants from the riot as many have agreed to plea deals for their roles in storming the U.S. Capitol to demand the election that saw President Joe Biden beat Donald Trump be overturned.
Prosecutors noted in court filings that 100 police officers were injured in the assault.
Hodgkins entered the Capitol with a backpack that had eye goggles, rope and white latex gloves. He, along with 50 other people, made it to the U.S. Senate chamber, where he took a selfie photograph, prosecutors said.
“The crimes that Hodgkins and others like him committed on January 6 are unprecedented,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo filed before the hearing.
Prosecutors asked for an 18-month prison sentence.
Hodgkins’ attorney Patrick Leduc argued his client was just caught up with the mob and implored the judge not to make an example of his client just because he was first to be sentenced.
“We're judging the man not the moment,” Leduc argued.
Hodgkins wished he never got caught up in the moment, Leduc said. He added his client has no criminal history and spends his weekend helping at a kitchen for the poor. Hodgkins also had his name splashed all over the media and will carry his guilt forever.
The defense asked that Hodgkins be placed on home confinement.
Judge Randolph Moss noted the physical and theoretical damage caused by the riot. The judge said people died in the assault, members of congress had to flee for their safety and certification of the election was delayed.
“It was an assault on the Capitol,” Moss said. “It was an assault on democracy.”
Hodgkins came by bus to the Capitol with items in his backpack, the judge said. When Hodgkins came to the building, he saw an attack was happening. When he got to the Senate floor, he raised a “Trump” flag and Moss said the symbolism of him pledging not to the country, but a person was undeniable.
Moss said he had to let people know if they impede Congress that there will be consequences, though the judge added that Hodgkins did not participate in violent actions while inside the Capitol. The judge said a lower end of the sentence guidelines was warranted because Hodgkins pleaded guilty and had no criminal history.