Is Trump going to jail? What you need to know about the possible sentence after conviction

Washington- Former President Donald Trump was convicted in New York’s “hush money” criminal trial, immediately raising many questions and launching the case into uncharted territory, where a judge will have to determine for the first time whether a former president should be imprisoned for a felony conviction.

Trump was found guilty by the jury On Thursday, 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence before the 2016 presidential election. Manhattan A guilty verdict was returned after a six-week trial involving more than 20 witnesses.

Each of the 34 criminal charges carries a $5,000 fine and up to four years in prison. But whether Trump will go to prison is another question — one that depends on the judge when sentencing.

When will Trump be tried?

The judge set a sentencing date for July 11 following the jury’s verdict Thursday.

The timeline is consistent with similar white-collar crime cases, where sentencing often occurs between three and eight weeks after sentencing, according to Dan Horwitz, a defense attorney who previously prosecuted white-collar cases for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

The sentencing will take place four days before the start of the Republican National Convention.

What to expect from sentencing

The minimum sentence for first-degree falsification of business records is zero, so Trump could receive probation or parole, no prison time or up to four years for each offense. Trump would likely be ordered to serve prison time concurrently on each count, up to four years in total.

“The judge could sentence him to between zero and the maximum,” Horwitz said. “So he could sentence him to a period of months in prison, he could sentence him to a period of several weeks in prison, he could sentence him to a sentence where he would be obliged, for example, to go to prison every weekend- end for a period of time, then serve the remainder of the sentence on probation.

In an analysis of comparable cases brought by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Norm Eisen, who wrote a book on Trump’s federal indictment related to the 2020 election and served as special counsel in the first impeachment of the former president, found that about 10% of cases resulted in Trump’s impeachment. in prison. But the circumstances of the case make any overall comparison difficult.

Trump could also be sentenced to house arrest, where he would wear an ankle bracelet and be monitored rather than going to prison. Horwitz suggested that a sentence of home detention, which is halfway between no punishment and a stay in state prison, might be the most likely outcome. It would also respond to Trump’s unusual security and political situation.

A house arrest sentence would also allow Trump to continue his campaign – albeit virtually – with the ability to hold press conferences and remain active on social media. Throughout the trial, Judge Juan Merchan stressed the importance of allowing Trump to campaign and exercise his First Amendment rights as he seeks another term in the White House. But this is only part of the equation that the judge must take into account in his decision.

What will the judge consider when sentencing Trump?

There are a number of factors the court may consider in determining punishment, including the nature and extent of the conduct, who was injured, whether there were victims, and whether responsibility was accepted. , Horwitz said. Trump has repeatedly denied any culpability in the matter.

“Courts will credit a defendant who pleads guilty by accepting responsibility for his drivers, as opposed to not accepting responsibility before trial and being found guilty,” Horwitz added, saying that “punishment after a trial because you have not accepted the responsibility is heavier.” stricter than it would otherwise have been. »

A defendant’s conduct during trial may also play a role, so Trump’s repeated violation of Merchan’s rules gag order may be an important factor in his conviction. During the trial, Trump was accused more than a dozen times of violating a gag order to prevent him from making public comments about likely witnesses, jurors, lawyers and court personnel involved in the affair.

Trump’s conviction could also be complicated by the lifetime Secret Service protection he enjoys as a former president. The issue was raised during the trial, when the judge found Trump in contempt Violation of a deviation order. Although Trump was fined several times, the judge said jailing him was “the last thing I wanted to do” because it would have disrupted the trial and presented challenges to the Secret Service agents charged with protecting the former president .

Imprisoning Trump would likely require a rotation of Secret Service agents, and he would have to be isolated from other detainees. The former president’s food and personal belongings would likely need to be screened for his protection, among other logistical considerations.

“For all contexts around the world, we study locations and develop comprehensive, layered protection models that integrate cutting-edge technology, protective intelligence and advanced security tactics to protect our protectees,” Anthony Guglielmi, Chief Communications Officer of the United States Secret Service. said in a statement.

No American prison has ever faced the possible incarceration of a former president. Horwitz said there are mechanisms for pretrial detainees in the state’s correctional facilities and prisons, but it remains to be seen how the process will actually work.

Where could Trump be imprisoned?

If Trump were sentenced to a period of house arrest, the former president could carry out his sentence outside of New York, such as at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where New York State would coordinate with the Florida Department of Probation, which would monitor Trump’s confinement, Horwitz said.

In the event Trump is sentenced to prison, the location would depend on the length of his sentence.

If Trump faces more than a year in prison, New York law requires that his sentence be served in a New York correctional facility. But if his sentence is less than a year, he will be served in a New York correctional facility, such as Rikers Island.

What happens next?

Trump could seek to stay the execution of any sentence pending appeal, meaning he would not have to begin serving his sentence until an appeals court has issued a ruling, which which is not uncommon in white-collar cases in New York’s federal courts, Horwitz said. The move could delay any prison time until the election – or even beyond.

Regardless, while a possible prison sentence raises some hurdles for Trump’s presidential campaign, his conviction doesn’t stop him from continuing to run, even if he’s behind bars.

Olivia Rinaldi and Jake Rosen contributed reporting.

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