Guy Reffitt Guilty Verdict 'Tip of the Iceberg' for Jan. 6 Convictions—Legal Experts

The conviction of the first Capitol riot defendant to go to trial could have knock-on effects for other January 6 suspects who are considering facing a jury rather than take a plea in their "politically charged" cases, and it may lead to more guilty verdicts, experts have suggested.

Guy Reffitt, 49, was found guilty by a jury of all five charges against him relating to the Capitol riot in the landmark proceedings for prosecutors.

Reffitt, a member of the far-right Texas Three Percenters group, was the first person to stand trial over the January 6 attack, with hundreds more defendants who have now been charged awaiting to either take a plea deal or also face their day in court.

Despite not having entered the Capitol on 6 January, Reffitt recorded himself encouraging others to storm the building and push past officers holding the police line. The 49-year-old also brought a handgun with him to the January 6 protests and was in possession of it on Capitol grounds.

He was found guilty of two counts of civil disorder, and one count each of obstruction of an official proceeding, entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds with a firearm, and obstruction of justice after the jury delivered a unanimous verdict after less than four hours.

In a statement to Newsweek, Christa Ramey, trial attorney and co-founder of Los Angeles-based civil litigation firm Ramey Law PC, said while a conviction was not surprising given the "overwhelming evidence" against Reffitt, his guilty verdicts may just be the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes to convictions for other defendants.

"They're taking a huge gamble with bringing such a politically charged case before a jury, and others facing charges will take this conviction into account before following through with a trial," Ramey said.

Former Los Angeles County prosecutor and criminal defense attorney Josh Ritter added that Reffitt's conviction will cause "shock waves" to others Capitol riot defendants weighing up how to approach their own cases, and may now be more inclined to seek a plea negotiation rather than "take their chances" at trial.

"Anybody who is charged in this huge prosecution was watching this case very closely to see how the prosecution put the case together and to see how a jury would respond. It will no doubt have an effect on how succeeding trials and prosecutions are handled," Ritter said in a statement to Newsweek.

Neama Rahmani, former federal prosecutor and president of West Coast Trial Lawyers, said Reffitt's guilty verdicts may also have implications for those accused of more serious offenses related to the Capitol attack, as well as help the Justice Department's aim to tie people's actions on January 6 under one broad entity in order to help secure convictions.

"The DOJ's whole approach since the smoke cleared on the Capitol Steps has been to start with the most minor players from the riot and use those cases to gather enough evidence to keep reaching higher and higher echelons of the alleged conspiracy," Rahmani said.

"This verdict sends the message that even despite this country's political division, justice can be served against the perpetrators of the Capitol riot."

One person who urged other January 6 defendant not to take any plea deals offered by prosecution and instead got to trial was Reffitt's wife, Nicole Reffitt.

"Do not take a plea," she said outside the D.C. court, reported CNN. "They are making a point out of Guy, and that is to intimidate the other members of the 1/6ers. And we will all fight together.

"The verdict today is against all American people," she added. "If you are going to be convicted on your First Amendment rights, all Americans should be wary."

However, Steven M. D'Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office, criticized Reffitt for not not taking responsibility for his actions on January 6 and instead opting to put his family through a "painful" trial

"Today's guilty verdict in the first jury trial of a January 6 defendant should serve as a reminder for others who committed crimes at the Capitol that day that these are serious charges and that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will do what it takes to hold them accountable," D'Antuono said.

Guy Reffitt capitol
Guy Reffitt was found guilty by a jury of all five charges against him relating to the Capitol riot, which experts suggest could have knock on effects for other January 6 defendants. DoJ