BREAKING: Appeals Court Strikes Down Jan 6 Sentence In Ruling That Could Affect Hundreds Of Cases

(trendingpoliticsnews) – A federal appeals court on Friday ruled that a January 6 defendant was wrongfully sentenced after pleading guilty to a non-violent misdemeanor in a decision that could impact hundreds of cases.

James Little of North Carolina was sentenced to both prison and probation in connection with a misdemeanor parading offense. Little, who walked around in the Capitol Building on January 6 but did not engage in any violence, was sentenced to 60 days in prison followed by a whopping three years of probation.

On Friday, however, the D.C. appeals court ruled 2-1 that that probation and imprisonment “may not be imposed as a single sentence” for a petty offense, adding “there are separate options on the menu,” the Associated Press reported. Judge Robert Wilkins, an Obama appointee, was the lone dissenting vote.

The decision could invalidate sentences handed down to dozens of January 6 defendants and undermine U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves’ overzealous prosecutions. Graves is still hunting down January 6 attendees more than two-and-a-half years after the protest that briefly devolved into a minor riot after opting not to investigate or prosecute far-left extremists who set fire to much of Washington D.C. and attacked the White House in 2020.

The vast majority of January 6 defendants have been convicted or pleaded guilty to minor trespassing violations — namely picketing or parading — and have received comparatively harsh sentences.

Friday’s decision could affect roughly 80 defendants who have received “split sentences,” meaning that they were sentenced to both prison time and probation for petty offenses. While many of those affected have already served their prison terms, the ruling will likely alter future sentencing.

“The Court must not only punish Little for his conduct but also ensure that he will not engage in similar conduct again during the next election,” the judge who sentenced Little, U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, wrote in a ruling last year. “Some term of imprisonment may serve sentencing’s retributive goals. But only a longer-term period of probation is adequate to ensure that Little will not become an active participant in another riot,” he added.

The Department of Justice could file an appeal. “We are reviewing the Court’s ruling and will determine our next steps in accordance with the law,” a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement.