Donald Trump found guilty on 34 counts: Will he go to jail and can he still be president?

As a former president, he has a lifetime Secret Service detail, which would become complicated if he goes to prison

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Donald Trump has shattered precedents and norms throughout his career. On Thursday, he achieved another first for any sitting or former president: Convicted felon.

A New York jury found Trump guilty on all 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up payments made to an adult film star during the 2016 election.

Here is a look at what could happen next:

What happens now?

Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the case, must first approve the verdict and enter a final judgment, although this is typically a formality.

Mr Merchan also ordered a probation report to be submitted to him before sentencing, which may involve Trump being interviewed by a New York probation officer.

Criminal defendants in New York are typically sentenced within weeks of conviction, but post-verdict legal wrangling can sometimes lead to months of delays.

There is also the matter of Trump's gag order, which is still in place and restricts him from publicly speaking about jurors and witnesses, as well as the families of Mr Merchan and District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Mr Merchan has set a sentencing date of July 11.

Will Trump end up in prison?

He could, but it is unlikely.

The maximum sentence for Trump’s crime of falsifying business records is four years in prison.

But it is rare for people with no criminal history who are convicted only of falsification of business records to be sentenced to prison in New York.

Defendants convicted of falsifying business records who get sentenced to time behind bars typically serve a year or less, and even in those cases most were convicted of other crimes such as fraud or grand larceny – unlike Trump.

The prosecution has not shared if it will pursue jail time for Trump. It is also unclear if Mr Merchan would follow such such a suggestion.

What is a likely sentencing for Trump?

A fine, probation, home confinement or community service are far more likely options, legal experts told AFP.

If punished beyond a fine, Trump could be placed under home confinement or subject to a curfew rather than imprisoned.

As a former president, he has a lifetime Secret Service detail, and the logistics of keeping him safe behind bars could be complicated.

Mr Merchan asked Trump's defence team to file any pre-sentencing motions by June 13 and for prosecutors to respond by June 27.

Can Trump appeal?

Yes.

"We're going to be appealing this scam," Trump said on Friday. His lawyers can file an appeal 30 days after the July 11 sentencing.

Trump will probably make arguments that Mr Merchan rejected before the trial, including that the indictment is legally flawed and politically motivated.

He is also likely to argue that Mr Merchan deprived him of a fair trial by making legal errors, including allowing salacious testimony by a former adult film star who said she had an affair with Trump – testimony his lawyers said was gratuitous and aimed at inflaming the jury against him.

Can a felon still run for president in the US?

The short answer is yes.

The US Constitution only requires that presidents be at least 35 years old and US citizens who have lived in the country for 14 years.

In theory, Trump can still campaign for the presidency from behind bars. And he could be sworn in from jail or prison on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2025, if he were to unseat President Joe Biden.

He would not, however, have the power to pardon himself. Presidents can only take such action in federal cases. This was a New York state prosecution.

Can a felon vote? Can Trump vote for himself?

Usually, no. It depends on which state a felon resides and was convicted in.

Trump’s conviction put a spotlight on felon disenfranchisement and a wider movement to restore rights.

He may have been convicted of a felony and reside in Florida, a state notorious for restricting the voting rights of felons, but he can still vote as long as he stays out of prison in New York state, the Associated Press said.

This is because Florida defers to other states’ disenfranchisement rules for residents convicted of felonies out of state.

In Trump’s case, New York law only removes the right to vote while a person incarcerated.

Once the person is out of prison, their rights are automatically restored — even if they are on parole, per a 2021 law passed by the state’s Democratic legislature.

Updated: May 31, 2024, 7:44 PM