600 people have been charged by federal authorities for participating in the riot at the U.S. Capitol and many are facing hefty legal fees, so they are requesting the help of others to pay their bills.
Over $2 million has been raised to help cover the expenses for those who have been charged, with most of the crowdfunding efforts based on two sites, GiveSendGo and Our Freedom Funding. Eight people received more than $100,000 in donations, and Infowars host Owen Shroyer netted $230,000 after being charged for his role in the riot.
Authorities have cited the donations in legal filings against defendants, like Jacob Chansley, who is also known as the QAnon Shaman,
"quickly raise large sums of money for travel through non-traditional sources." a judge pointed out
Joshua James, asked to be released from home confinement, claiming that it was impossible to support his family, but prosecutors pointed out that he was raising over $8,000 per week on crowdfunding sites.
Many of the accused are being represented by a public defender, but if they raise enough money for their legal defense, they could hire a lawyer with their own money.
"If the U.S. attorney's office wanted to come in and file a motion to say that the economic circumstances of these people have changed so that they should no longer get a public defender, I think that the court would take that seriously," Carissa Byrne Hessick, a criminal law professor at the University of North Carolina and director of the Prosecutors and Politics Project, said. "It's the same as if someone has a public defender and suddenly won the lottery."
The first person to be convicted for their role in the riot at the U.S. Capitol has been sentenced to eight months in prison.
Paul Hodgkins, pleaded guilty to one count of obstructing a joint session of Congress. Hodgkins spent 15 minutes inside the building and was carrying a giant Trump flag, something U.S. District Judge Randolph D. Moss noted.
"The symbolism of that act was unmistakable," Moss said. "He was staking a claim on the floor of the U.S. Senate not with an American flag, but declaring his loyalty to a single individual over the nation. In that act, he captured the threat to democracy that we all witnessed that day."
Hodgkins apologized for his actions and said he got swept up in the moment. Judge Moss said that Hodgkins knew what he was doing when he joined the riot.
"Although Mr. Hodgkins was only one member of a larger mob, he actively and intentionally participated in an event that threatened not only the security of the Capitol but democracy itself," Moss said. "That is chilling for many reasons.
At least 535 people have been charged for their roles in the riots. While Hodgkins was the first person convicted of a felony, two people convicted of misdemeanors have already been sentenced.