Jan. 6 defendants have been charged with crimes
CLAIM: Defendants arrested in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot have been “locked up for months on end without being charged.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. More than 700 people have been arrested in connection with the riot — and each one has been charged.
THE FACTS: A gubernatorial candidate in Arizona made the false claim in a video that she posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
The video, viewed more than 370,000 times, shows a minute-and-a-half portion of an interview that Republican Kari Lake did with Australia’s “60 Minutes.”
“This was THE most biased interview of my entire life!” Lake wrote in her tweet of the clip.
In the video, interviewer Liam Bartlett asked Lake whether she thought Jan. 6 defendants should be pardoned — as former President Donald Trump, who has endorsed Lake, recently suggested.
Lake, noting that a governor has no control over that, responded: “What I don’t like is that people are being held in prison without being charged. That’s un-American.”
“Maybe they get away with that stuff in Australia,” Lake added, before commenting on the country’s gun laws. She went on to say: “We have something called the U.S. Constitution. And we have rights. And we don’t take kindly, we don’t take kindly on Americans being locked up for months on end without being charged. So charge ’em or get off the pot.”
But it’s not true that the Jan. 6 defendants haven’t been charged, as Lake repeatedly said. Her campaign did not return a request for comment.
A charge in a criminal case is an accusation of a crime.
More than 700 people have been charged in the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the Justice Department. They were arrested mostly on federal charges ranging from unlawfully entering the Capitol to seditious conspiracy. Suspects include more than three dozen members and associates of right-wing extremist groups such as the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.
Each of the suspects charged was arrested based on a criminal complaint signed by a federal judge and requiring investigators prove they have probable cause the person committed a federal crime, or an indictment from a grand jury. Information on individual cases is publicly available. The charges can be seen for each defendant.
Around six dozen defendants who have been charged in Jan. 6 cases remain jailed awaiting trial, according to an Associated Press tally. More than 200 people have pleaded guilty and more than 80 have already been sentenced. Many of those sentenced so far were convicted for misdemeanor crimes, and have received home confinement or jail terms of weeks or months. Some rioters who assaulted police officers have gotten years behind bars.
Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and former federal prosecutor, said in an email that federal rules and the Constitution “require that arrested defendants be promptly presented to a judge and that a complaint bringing specific charges against a defendant be quickly filed, unless charges had already been brought before a defendant was arrested.”
Holding an individual for months without charges would be illegal, Richman said.
False claims and conspiracy theories about what occurred on Jan. 6 have persisted in the year since the riot.
Associated Press writer Mike Balsamo in New York contributed to this report.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.