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Will Trump go to jail, now that he’s convicted of a crime?

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Donald Trump has become the first former U.S. President to be found guilty of committing a crime, so will Trump go to jail?
Donald Trump has been found guilty. What now?

Will Trump go to jail?

That’s one of the main questions cropping up after Donald Trump became the first former U.S. President to have been convicted of a crime.

Trump was accused of covering up ‘hush money’ payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

On Thursday (local time), a New York jury found him guilty on 34 charges of falsifying business records.

Trump, a Republican, is expected to run against Democrat President Joe Biden in the November election.

Now that he’s been found guilty of committing a crime, what’s in store for Trump’s future?

First: the case

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump arranged for a $US130,000 ($AU200k) payment to be made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who said she’d had sex with him a decade earlier.

Trump told his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, to organise the payment to Daniels in exchange for her silence.

A jury has now found that Trump falsified multiple business records to hide the payment — a criminal offence in the U.S. state of New York.

Will Trump go to jail?

Judge Juan Merchan will deliver his sentence on 11 July. This is where he will decide Trump’s punishment.

Trump is facing a maximum sentence of four years imprisonment.

However, it’s unlikely that he’ll go to jail. In New York, the type of crime that Trump has been found guilty of is a lower-level offence compared to more serious fraud charges.

Trump has no prior criminal record, which also reduces his chances of being sentenced to prison.

If he doesn’t go to jail, what penalty will he face?

Some experts say Trump will most likely be penalised with a fine, or face court-ordered restrictions on his business activities.

As an alternative to jail time, the judge could sentence Trump to probation. Probation orders can include a range of restrictions and regular meetings with a probation officer.

Consequently, if Trump breaches the conditions of his probation, he could face jail time.

Can Trump appeal the guilty verdict?

Yes.

Trump’s lawyers can file an appeal once the sentence is handed down on 11 July. This would delay sentencing and could lead to the guilty verdict being reversed.

Bruce Wolpe from the University of Sydney’s U.S. Studies Centre expects Trump to take advantage of all his legal options to avoid the charges.

Wolpe told TDA it’s unlikely an appeal process would be finalised before the election on 5 November.

Trump is guilty. Can he run for President?

Yes. Legally, there is nothing stopping Trump from running for President if he’s convicted of a crime.

The U.S. Constitution states there are three conditions for becoming President. The person must be:

  1. older than 35,
  2. born a U.S. citizen,
  3. and a U.S. resident for more than 14 years.

What about Trump’s other criminal cases?

Trump is facing three other separate criminal cases.

In the state of Georgia, Trump is accused of trying to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

He also faces a federal lawsuit over his involvement in the U.S. Capitol riots on 6 January 2021, which attempted to stop Biden’s confirmation as the winner of the 2020 election.

The third trial is over secret documents allegedly taken from the White House found at his Florida property.

Can Trump be President in jail?

If he ends up behind bars and goes on to win the November election, there is no constitutional reason he couldn’t still be President.

Current Supreme Court deliberations could also influence Trump’s chances of being convicted for the other charges he’s facing.

Ultimately, the court will decide if Trump should be immune from any criminal offences relating to his time in office.

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