The first person to have pleaded guilty to storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 with the intention of stopping the certification of the Electoral College vote was sentenced on Monday to eight months in prison in what could serve as an indicator for scores of similar cases.
The defendant, Paul A. Hodgkins, pleaded guilty last month to a single felony count — obstruction of an official proceeding before Congress — and admitted to breaching the Senate floor with a Trump flag and backpack filled with items like goggles, rope and a pair of latex gloves.
Mr. Hodgkins’ acknowledgment that he had gone deep into the Capitol intending to disrupt the peaceful transition of power set him apart in the eyes of prosecutors from scores of other members of the mob who merely walked into the building, causing no disturbance or destruction.
At his sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Washington, Judge Randolph D. Moss said there needed to be “severe consequences” for the Jan. 6 attack, but also noted that Mr. Hodgkins, a 38-year-old Florida crane operator, was a first-time offender.
While Mr. Hodgkins’ sentence was less than the 18 months the government had asked for, Judge Moss pointed out that the events of Jan. 6 — when, as he noted, a mob assaulted the home of Congress and forced legislators to drop the business of democracy and flee — were “extraordinary” and “chilling.”
“When a mob is prepared to attack the Capitol,” he said, “democracy is in trouble.”