The criminal case captured headlines on CNN and other news outlets for several weeks in early 2016: An armed group took over an unoccupied building on a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, as part of a demonstration against federal land policies. The group was showing support for two men that had been arrested for arson on the Maleur National Wildlife Refuge in protest of what they perceived as unconstitutional overreaching by the federal government. One occupier was actually shot and killed by police during a traffic stop, which prompted others to surrender to authorities. After 41 days, members of the group were arrested for various federal crimes, and the standoff ended peacefully on February 11, 2016.
On October 27, seven of the occupiers were acquitted on all charges by an Oregon jury, which brought an end to the case, though some legal issues remain outstanding.
Allegations Against the Defendants Leads to Multiple Charges
Federal officials prepared a long list of allegations against different members of the protest group, but still needed proper authority to make any arrests. Therefore, they presented evidence and arguments before a federal grand jury, that indicted 16 people on various federal crimes charges. The four people who surrendered to authorities were included in the indictments.
Each defendant was charged with federal conspiracy to impede officers of the United States government from carrying out their official duties through use of force, intimidation, or threats. All charges are felonies, which would be punishable by a fine and up to six years in prison if convicted. The seven defendants that were acquitted will avoid these harsh consequences. Additional members of the original group of 16 are still facing charges, with a trial date set for February 2017. However, under the circumstances of this current case, the upcoming criminal proceedings are likely to result in a not guilty finding as well.
Some Defendants Remain in Custody on Additional Federal Charges
Even though they were acquitted on federal conspiracy charges in the Maleur National Wildlife Refuge matter, two defendants remain in custody. Despite arguments of one’s attorney, officials decided to hold these individuals in connection with a 2014 Nevada case that also involved federal crimes. One attorney so vehemently argued against the continued custody that US Marshals used force and a stun gun to subdue him.
The 2014 matter also involved a showdown with federal officials, once again over land usage and what the defendants called interference by the federal government. The defendants engaged in a heated battle with the Bureau of Land Management over grazing rights for cattle.
Penalties for Federal Crimes in San Diego
Federal crimes can lead to harsh prison sentences and fines if you’re convicted, which is why a strong defense is critical. A criminal defense attorney with experience in federal crimes will fight for your rights and present arguments to obtain the best possible outcome in court. To increase your chances of a favorable result, contact a knowledgeable criminal lawyer in San Diego who will represent your interests in a California federal crimes case.
Ozols Law Firm
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA