What will Donald Trump's arraignment look like?

Former US president likely to be fingerprinted and photographed, but will have his Secret Service detail with him

Donald Trump is the first former US president to be indicted. AP
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Donald Trump is scheduled to make his first court appearance in New York on Tuesday after he became the first former US president to suffer the ignominy of being indicted.

Police in Manhattan — a New York borough that neighbours Mr Trump's hometown of Queens — are already bracing for protests and are closing off roads.

Aspects of the court process will appear familiar, but it is unprecedented for a former or sitting president to face criminal charges, so expect many surprises.

Joe Tacopina, a defence lawyer for Mr Trump, said it was difficult to tell how the process would unfold.

“I honestly don't know how this is going to go — hopefully as smoothly as possible — and then we begin the battle to right this wrong,” Mr Tacopina told CNN.

When will Trump arrive at the courthouse?

As expected, Mr Trump will surrender to authorities on Tuesday.

The former president said he would depart his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, at 12pm EST and arrive at Trump Tower in New York later that day.

On Tuesday morning, the former president will make his way down from Trump Tower in Midtown to Manhattan Criminal Court near the island's southern tip.

His arraignment is scheduled to begin at 2.15pm EST, media outlets reported, and is expected to last between 15 and 30 minutes. The charges against the former president will be made public at this time.

It is unclear if the court proceedings will be televised. Several news organisations wrote a letter to presiding judge Juan Merchan asking for the event to be broadcast.

Mr Trump is expected to head back to Florida immediately after the court proceedings, CNN reported. He will deliver remarks from Mar-a-Lago at 8.15pm EST.

Don't expect Trump in handcuffs, lawyer says

Although Mr Trump reportedly wants to be handcuffed during his court appearance, his lawyer said that was not going to happen.

Mr Tacopina said the former president would not be handcuffed because of a deal agreed to between Mr Trump's legal team and New York prosecutors.

Will Trump's mugshot be taken?

When Mr Trump does arrive in court to face charges levied after a grand jury's investigation into alleged hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, it will be part of a similar process faced by other defendants.

While Mr Tacopina has said Mr Trump will not be handcuffed, the former president must still be processed like other criminal defendants.

This includes being booked, fingerprinted and having his mugshot taken.

Mr Tacopina did not say whether he expected the former president to face a “perp walk” — a frequent fixture of US criminal cases in which a defendant is publicly escorted by police into a courthouse.

US politicians' run-in with the law — in pictures

“I'm sure they'll try to get every ounce of publicity they can from this thing,” Mr Tacopina said in a probably reference to Manhattan prosecutors.

“The president will not be put in handcuffs. As far as the mugshot's concerned, a perp walk, as I said, I'm sure they'll try to make sure they get some joy out of this by parading him.”

Mr Trump will appear before Mr Merchan — the assigned judge whom the former president recently attacked in a Truth Social post — and the charges will be read to him. CNN reported that Mr Trump faces more than 30 counts.

The former president would then enter a plea — which will almost certainly be “not guilty”. It is also highly unlikely that bail will be set or that he will remain in custody while he awaits trial.

A heavy Secret Service detail

Unlike other defendants, and underscoring the unprecedented nature of the case, Mr Trump will be accompanied by his Secret Service detail.

All former US presidents receive Secret Service protection after they leave office.

Mr Trump's detail is also likely to complicate the logistics of his surrender. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's request to have Mr Trump surrender on Friday was rebuffed because Secret Service agents needed time to prepare for his escort, several media outlets reported.

The Secret Service will provide protection to Mr Trump throughout the court proceedings.

Mr Tacopina told ABC News he expects the blocks surrounding Manhattan Criminal Court to be closed off and that the courthouse would be shut down when the former president surrenders.

Updated: April 04, 2023, 10:39 AM