Donald Trump’s prison sentence ‘more likely,’ law professor predicts

Former President Donald Trump’s chances of ending up behind bars are “more likely now” because of his lack of remorse and repeated violations of Judge Juan Merchan’s order of silence, according to Adam Shlahet, professor of right at Fordham.

Last month, a New York jury found the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a secret money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen before the 2016 presidential election. The verdict makes Trump the first former president convicted of crimes.

Daniels has alleged that she had a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, which he denies. Trump has maintained his innocence and says the case, brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is politically motivated. Her legal team says she will fight the case, which will include an appeal, if necessary.

The former president now faces prison time, which will be determined at his July 11 sentencing by Merchan, who presided over the case, just days before the Republican National Convention, where he is expected to accept the party’s nomination.

Shlahet, director of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy Center at Fordham Law, said in an interview published Saturday by Salon that he “previously thought the judge sentencing him to incarceration was very unlikely,” but now, “I think it ‘is more likely.”

“When the person who is going to decide your sentence is the judge, it’s also a very good idea not to upset the judge at every opportunity,” Shlahet said. “Every time he gets on a microphone he insults the judge and calls him crooked and calls him contradictory and shows no respect for the jury’s verdict. And that’s not how a defendant wants probation should act.”

The law professor also highlighted Trump’s 10 separate violations of Merchan’s silence order. The former president was fined a total of $10,000 for these violations.

The former president repeatedly criticized Merchan as “highly divisive” and “corrupt” on social media and in his public speeches. Shlahet told the outlet about Trump: “Even though he’s a guy with no criminal record and he’s an older guy, there are a ton of factors, aggravating factors that would cause a judge to give him a prison sentence,” including his conduct and rhetoric. towards Judge Merchan.

Former President Donald Trump is seen May 31 in New York. Trump’s chances of ending up behind bars are ‘more likely now’ due to his lack of remorse and repeated violations of the judge…

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Falsifying business records in New York State is a Class E felony, the least serious of the state’s five felony levels. There is no minimum prison sentence for a first-time offender like Trump, but there is a risk of a sentence of several years. Fines, probation and parole are all possibilities.

Legal experts, meanwhile, are divided on whether Trump is likely to serve prison time in this unprecedented situation.

Michael Moore, a former American lawyer and legal analyst, said News week in an email Saturday that Trump’s incarceration is not likely. Regarding his possible sentence, Moore said, “While some type of supervision, whether in a state facility or in home confinement, is possible, I don’t think it’s likely.” former president, I just don’t think a prison sentence is likely.”

He also highlighted the political implications of incarceration: “In my mind, a prison sentence actually plays into Trump’s argument that he is being singled out because of the upcoming election. I also believe that a prison sentence in this case would add a new consideration for the court of appeal as it weighs the strong arguments already in favor of overturning the conviction.”

Cheryl Bader, a professor at Fordham Law School, previously said News week in a telephone interview Thursday about how difficult it is to know the likely sentence, saying, “No one knows except maybe Judge Merchan, and even he may not have made up his mind at that time. »

Unlike Shlahet, Bader believes “it is unlikely that he will serve” a prison sentence, while noting that “it is possible that the judge will sentence him to house arrest.” In addition to this being Trump’s first offense and his nonviolent nature, she also noted that his “advanced age” at 77 made a prison sentence unlikely.

Bader noted that whatever sentence the former president receives, “it would likely be stayed while the appeal is pending,” meaning he will not have to serve his sentence immediately.

Barbara McQuade, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan and MSNBC legal analyst, said: News week in an email Thursday stating that while there are several considerations in his favor, there are others against him, such as his “character,” “lack of remorse and repeated violations of the gag order,” which, according to McQuade, “show a lack of respect.” “for the law.”

McQuade noted that “whether or not he gets jail time, I doubt he’ll start serving it much after the election.”

Trump and President Joe Biden are scheduled to hold their first presidential debate on June 27, with another planned for September. The presidential race remains very close, with national poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight showing Trump leading Biden by 1.1 points on Saturday.

The U.S. Constitution does not prohibit a convicted candidate from running for president from prison. In an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Sunday, Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, said “nothing would change” Trump’s candidacy, even if he was in prison.

Updated 8/6/2024, 3:02 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include Moore’s comment.

Updated 06/08/2024, 3:22 p.m. ET: Title has been changed.