Sentence Enhancement Causes A Breakdown In A J6 Rioter’s Hearing

( — Last week’s sentencing hearing for January 6 defendant Andrew Taake ended abruptly with a delay after the defense objected to a sentencing enhancement that was not included in the plea agreement reached with prosecutors.

Taake was arrested in July 2021 for his role in the January 6 Capitol riot. He was charged with 11 counts for assaulting law enforcement using bear spray and a steel-cabled Stinger Whip.

The 35-year-old Houston resident was identified after he bragged about his involvement in the riot on the dating app Bumble. At the time he was taken into custody, police found three loaded weapons in his Houston home, despite Taake being a convicted felon.

Taake pleaded guilty last December to assaulting police with a dangerous or deadly weapon.

As part of his plea agreement, the sentencing guidelines called for 46 to 57 months in prison if Taake accepted responsibility for his actions. However, in the prosecution’s sentencing memo, federal prosecutors argued that Taake continued to do the opposite. Prosecutors noted that less than a week after pleading guilty to the charge, Taake claimed that he admitted to “stuff that didn’t happen.”

The prosecution requested a 78-month sentence.

However, during the sentencing hearing, Taake’s attorney, Michael Lawlor, was blindsided when US District Judge Carl Nichols said he believed that an additional sentencing enhancement for inflicting bodily harm on law enforcement should apply in this case—an enhancement that would raise the sentencing guidelines to between 87 and 108 months in prison.

Lawlor objected to the judge’s recommendation, arguing that he received no advanced notice that the judge was considering further enhancement. In the verbal sparring match that followed, Lawlor said that in his 27 years as a defense attorney, he had never had a judge suggest an additional enhancement at a sentencing hearing without first receiving some advanced notice.

Eventually, Judge Nichols ordered the prosecution and defense to submit briefs on the enhancement issue by May 10. He rescheduled Taake’s sentencing for May 23.

Taake, who has remained behind bars since his arrest, will receive a credit of roughly 33 months for time served.

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