Q&A on Trump’s Criminal Conviction – NBC10 Philadelphia

Donald Trump became the first current or former US president to be convicted of a criminal offense when a 12-person jury in New York on May 30 convicted him of 34 counts of corporate fraud as part of an illegal scheme to influence the economy. 2016 elections by making payments to suppress a sordid story of sex with a porn star.

This unprecedented conviction raises questions about the future of the 77-year-old, the Republican Party’s candidate for president in 2024.

What are the next steps in the case?

Conviction and appeal will be the next steps in this case.

Sentencing by Judge Juan Merchan is scheduled for July 11. Before then, a probation officer or someone from that department will interview Trump, and potentially others involved in the case or connected to Trump, and prepare a pre-sentence report for the judge. The report includes the defendant’s personal history and criminal record, and it recommends the sentence the defendant should receive, according to the New York State Unified Court System.

“The pre-sentence interview is an opportunity for the defendant to try to make a good impression and explain why he or she deserves a lighter sentence,” the state court system explains.

Trump’s lawyers must wait until sentencing to appeal the conviction. First, Trump’s lawyers will file motions before the judge “in a few weeks” explaining why they found the trial “unfair,” Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche told CNN hours after the verdict. guilt.

Cheryl Bader, associate clinical professor of law at Fordham University Law School, said such motions are typical when a defendant is found guilty. Defense attorneys will ask the judge to overturn the jury’s conviction. “It’s rarely, rarely granted, and I don’t think there’s any chance of that happening in this case,” she told us in a phone interview.

Blanche told CNN that if the motions are unsuccessful, “then as soon as we can appeal, we will.” And the process in New York is that there’s a conviction, and then – and then we appeal from there.

Bader, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, guided us through the appeals process. “The case is considered closed at the time of sentencing,” she said. “At this point, his attorneys file a notice of appeal…letting the court know that he intends to appeal.” »

At this point, they will also request a “stay” of sentencing, meaning a break in the imposition of the sentence while the case is under appeal.

This appeal is addressed to the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department in Manhattan. The court of appeal does not retry the case. “They are not going to substitute their judgment of the facts for that of the jury,” Bader said. Instead, “they look for where there was an error that would have led to improper prosecution or an unfair trial.”

The appeal process would take several months to a year, she said. Once notice of appeal is given, the case record is assembled, including trial transcripts, indictment, pretrial motions, evidentiary rulings, selection and jury instructions, and much more. Trump could also appeal the conviction. Lawyers have to write out their arguments on all the points they object to, and that takes time, Bader said.

Then the court of appeal must review the case and write a decision on it.

If Trump ultimately fails to win his appeal, he can appeal to New York State’s highest court, called the Court of Appeals. But it is the court that decides whether or not to accept the case.

After such an appeal to the state’s highest court, the case would be over — unless Trump attempts to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But for that, there must be an American constitutional question. “I don’t see one,” Bader said, but perhaps Trump’s lawyers would try to make an argument.

What punishment could Trump face? Will he go to prison?

Whether Trump will be sentenced to prison depends on the judge.

Each of the 34 counts of first-degree falsification of business records, a class E felony, carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison. The judge could decide to impose the sentences consecutively or simultaneously. However, under New York law, 20 years is the maximum prison sentence Trump could serve — not 187 years, as Trump falsely claimed in his May 31 remarks.

Norman Eisen, a CNN legal analyst and senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution, said that “in the most serious cases” of falsification of business records in New York that he has studied, “a prison sentence was systematically imposed. Trump’s case “is the most serious in New York history,” he wrote on X, predicting that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin “Bragg will likely seek incarceration and Merchan will consider it “.

While that’s possible, Fordham Law School’s Bader told us she doesn’t think incarceration would happen.

For a first-time convicted felon, with a low-level, non-violent crime and a person of advanced age, “under such circumstances, there would be a relatively low chance of incarceration,” she said. declared.

“On the other hand, I could see the prosecutor arguing that this is a man who has disrespected the justice system and the rule of law and who has violated court orders on numerous occasions . He has no remorse. And that to promote general deterrence, he must be punished,” she said in describing a possible argument from the prosecutor.

Bader said any incarceration sentence “would just be a token time to make the case that Trump is not above the law.” Other sentencing options include probation or “parole” with conditions other than incarceration or probation.

The “easiest” option might be for the judge to fine Trump, she said.

Can Trump vote in the 2024 election?

Yes, Trump can vote as long as he is not in jail on Election Day, which this year is November 5th.

Trump owns homes in New York and Florida, but in 2019 he changed his primary residence to Florida. However, Florida law does not apply to Trump’s case because he was convicted in New York. Instead, New York law applies.

“If you were convicted outside of Florida, your voting rights are governed by the state in which you were convicted,” as the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida explains on its website.

In 2021, New York State enacted a law that “restores the right to vote to a person convicted of a felony upon release from prison, whether on parole or on parole.” a period of post-release supervision. » said the Board of Elections. “If a convicted felon is not incarcerated, he or she can register to vote.”

Can a criminal run for president, hold office?

Yes. According to Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution, there are three requirements to serve as president: he or she must be at least 35 years of age at the time of taking office, reside in the United States -United for at least 14 years and be “natural”. natural born citizen or citizen of the United States.

“These qualifications are considered proprietary,” Josh Chafetz, a law professor at Georgetown University, told us last year when we wrote about Trump’s federal indictment related to allegations of mismanagement of sensitive classified documents after his departure from office. “Anyone can be president as long as they meet the constitutional requirements and do not trigger any constitutional disqualification.”

“Someone can run for president while under indictment or even after being convicted and serving a prison sentence,” said Chafetz, who cited the example of Eugene V. Debs, the late labor leader, who in 1920 ran for president from prison. the Socialist Party list and obtained almost a million votes.

There is one exception to this rule. The Constitution states in Section 3 of the 14th Amendment that no U.S. official, including the president, may hold office if convicted of “engaging in insurrection or rebellion” against the United States. United – which Trump was also not accused of in this case. case or the three others he faces.

Six Colorado voters filed a lawsuit in state court to stop Trump from appearing on that state’s ballot, citing the constitutional amendment barring insurrectionists from holding federal office. But the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the state’s decision, “because the Constitution makes Congress, rather than the states, responsible for enforcing Section 3 against federal officeholders and candidates”.

Can Trump forgive himself for this conviction if he wins?

The short answer is no.

Trump was convicted in New York for crimes in violation of state law. Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution states that a president has the “power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States.” According to Constitution Annotated, a government-sanctioned collection of interpretations of the Constitution, this means the power extends to “federal crimes, but not state or civil wrongs.”

In a 1925 case, Ex parte Grossman, the United States Supreme Court upheld this interpretation, writing that the Constitution’s language specifying the presidential pardon power for offenses “against the United States” was “presumably intended to specify that the President’s pardon was to act on offenses against the United States as distinguished from offenses against the States.

New York’s governor has the authority to pardon Trump for his conviction for crimes under state law. This is currently Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat. After the verdict, Republican Rep. Nick LaLota called on Hochul “to immediately announce his intention to pardon President Trump and preemptively commute any sentence.” Failure to do so is allowing America to become a banana republic.” Hochul released a statement on May 30 saying, “Today’s verdict reaffirms that no one is above the law. »

President Joe Biden blasted former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against a New York judge and prosecutor, a day after a jury unanimously found Trump guilty of 34 criminal counts of tampering with commercial files. “It’s reckless, it’s dangerous and it’s irresponsible for anyone to say it was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict.”