Before returning to our discussion about Oleg Atbashian, freedom of speech (and of the press), and the felony charges against Atbashian, I'd like to go off on a tangent about nuclear war.
The excerpt below is from something the American Conservative published in 2013.
Business Insider reports that “Steve Deace, an influential conservative Iowa talk show host” has been making profound declarations that, should the Supreme Court strike down anti-gay marriage laws, “It’s going to raise the issue to Orange Threat Level, it’ll be DEFCON 6…”
Sounds serious, if you don't know what you're talking about. The American Conservative clarifies:
DEFCON is short for DEFense CONdition, and according to the Encyclopedia of the Cold War, “The DEFCON system is divided into five different alert levels with detailed, if ambiguous, descriptions and expected actions by military forces at each threat level.” Mr. Deace’s first error is that DEFCON scales from 1 to 5, not 6. To be charitable, though, he likely knew this and was making an exaggerated claim for effect. What then, is DEFCON 5? Again from the Encyclopedia of the Cold War, “DEFCON 5: Normal peacetime readiness The lowest alert level in the DEFCON system…” DEFCON 5 is as low as alerts go, and is the traditional status for most military forces. Anytime someone threatens to go DEFCON 5 on you or a loved one, then, readily take them up on their offer as amity should shortly be restored.
Alert is raised from there with progressively lower numbers.
In other words, if Deace truly went to DEFCON Level 6, then when Obama came to take his guns, Deace would give them away gladly and give the President a kiss. (But Deace probably wouldn't marry him.)
Deace isn't the only one who is confused about the DEFCON numbering system. Heck, most all of us, including myself, usually assume that bigger numbers mean a greater threat.
Speaking of threats, I previously described how police at George Mason University unfortunately did not arrive in time to stop alleged felonies by the aforementioned Mr. Atbashian. I also noted the significant difference in how various parties are covering this event. Let's start with an excerpt of Atbashian's description:
Since they couldn't find any weapons and our message was protected by the First Amendment, the officers decided to charge us with "destruction of property worth of at least $2,500," which was a "class 6 felony."
The whole episode, which almost sounded like a bad parody of "Terror in the Skies," resulted in blaring headlines like this:
Pro-Israel Artist Threatened with 5 Years in Jail for Campus Anti-Terror Posters
Well, Atbashian is still charged with a felony, and his preliminary hearing will be held at 2:00 local time on February 17. Here are the details of his case, courtesy the Virginia court system website:
As you can see, the right wing media is NOT lying in this case. Atbashian is charged with destruction of property, with a complaint filed by M. Guston, and the charge is a class 6 felony.
Which of course raises the question - what is a class 6 felony?
A Class 6 felony in Virginia is a crime that meets the criteria for the "felony" category with the least of authorized punishments associated with it. Class 6 felony crimes in the state of Virginia include reckless endangerment and violation of a court order.
So if any patriot declares that the state should "reduce" Atbashian's crime to a class 1 felony, the patriot doesn't know what he or she is talking about.
So what's the penalty for a class 6 felony?
Penalties for the commission of Class 6 felony crimes in Virginia include imprisonment of no less than one but up to five years. Fines that do not exceed $2,500 can also be imposed on those who commit Class 6 felony crimes in Virginia.
So the patriots will loudly declare that Atbashian will be thrown in the American gulag for five years. But will he? An article on another potential class 6 felony case (ironically, for anti-Jewish vandalism) states:
This type of crime would result in at least six months of jail time with a minimum of 30 days served.
It all depends upon what the Fairfax County prosecutor wants to do. Because of the First Amendment issues, there's a chance that the prosecutor may even settle for time served (14 hours).
And obviously Atbashian's defense attorney will have some influence over the final outcome.
Stuart A. Sears joined the law firm Schertler & Onorato, LLP, as Counsel in 2013 and was promoted to Partner in 2014. He is an experienced and accomplished trial attorney whose practice focuses on criminal and white collar defense. Stuart’s litigation experience includes representation of individuals in a wide array of federal and state criminal proceedings, including cases involving charges of health care fraud, false claims, money laundering, mail and wire fraud, illegal structuring, and mortgage fraud. He has extensive trial and post-conviction litigation experience in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the federal courts.
In addition to his trial work, Stuart’s broad experience includes representations of individuals and companies in civil and criminal government investigations. He has recently counseled clients through Department of Justice (DOJ) investigations involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the False Claims Act (FCA), procurement fraud, and health care fraud. Stuart’s practice also includes litigating complex criminal and civil forfeiture matters at the agency and district court level.
Not sure if any of Sears' prior clients were people who put up satirical posters, but this will certainly round out his experience.