Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Federal Restricted Area

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Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Federal Restricted Area - What are the charges?

Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Federal Restricted AreaWhat is Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Federal Restricted Area?   The United States Attorneys Office for the District of Columbia has charged over 200 individuals with a variety of charges stemming from the January 6, 2021 Capitol Breach Cases.  One of the counts the Government is charging is Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1752(a)(2)).    

These cases are being indicted stating that the individuals(Defendants) did knowingly, and with intent to impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business and official functions, engage in disorderly and disruptive conduct in and within such proximity to, a restricted building and grounds, that is, any posted, cordoned-off, and otherwise restricted area within the United States Capitol and its grounds, where the Vice President and Vice President-elect were temporarily visiting, when and so that such conduct did in fact impede and disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business and official functions.  Charging (Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building or Grounds, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1752(a)(2)).  

What are the elements that must be proven to be convicted of 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(2) Entering a Restrictive Area

For the Government to prove that individual violated 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(2) , Disorderly and Disruptive Conduct in a Restricted Building they must prove:

  •  The defendant knowingly and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions
  • The defendant engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct  
  • within such proximity to, any restricted area 
  • impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions

Restricted Area is defined as any area that is displayed with notice or cordoned off, or otherwise restricted:  where any person protected by the Secret Service is or will be temporarily visiting; or  building or grounds so restricted in conjunction with an event designated as a special event of national significance;

So What Defenses could be raised to Challenge 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(2)

Challenge the Vagueness of Restricted Area

The statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(2) is similar to trespass or unlawful entry statutes.  For the government to prove that the individuals are breaching the restrictive area,  Law Enforcement must have applied appropriate signs providing notice to the individuals.  Law enforcement would have to give verbal notification to persons seeking to enter without authority or be arrested.   Failure to provide adequate warnings the government would not be able provide notice of the restrictive area.

Should it have been General Knowledge to the Individuals Entering the Capitol that It was a Restrictive Area?

Yes and No.  So, the people breaking the windows and pushing law enforcement back should have known this was a restrictive area even without verbal or physical notification.   However, other individuals may be able to use the defense of no notice (verbal or physical signs) of the restrictive areas, especially if they were following a crowd.     

How about 1st Amendment Challenges?

1st Amendment challenges would probably fail for variety of reasons. 

  • People may exercise their 1st Amendment right where they peaceful and orderly protests and no disruption of government activities.
  • The government has the right to control physical presence on the designated grounds. Since demonstrations involve conduct, they are subject to reasonable regulations when necessary to protect other legitimate government interests.

What is the Penalty to 18 U.S.C. § 1752(A)(2)

A defendant convicted under Section 1752(a)(2) can be sentenced to a fine or for not more than one year, or both.   This would be a misdemeanor unless the person carries a weapon or firearm then sentence could be up to 10 years.   People charged with this criminal offense are usually charged with 18 U.S.C. § 1752(a)(1).  (See our article).

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