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Historic Conviction of Donald Trump

What Comes Next for the Former President?

New York, NY – June 4, 2024 – In a landmark decision, a New York jury has convicted former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, a Class E felony. This historic conviction leaves Trump’s fate in the hands of Judge Juan Merchan, whom Trump has frequently criticized as “corrupt” and “incompetent.”

Trump, 77, was found guilty of falsifying business records, a charge that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison per count. However, legal experts are divided on whether Trump will actually serve time behind bars.

Chuck Rosenberg, a former federal prosecutor and NBC News analyst, believes it’s unlikely that Judge Merchan will impose a prison sentence, given Trump’s age, first-time offender status, and the nonviolent nature of the crime. “I’d be very surprised if there’s any sentence of incarceration at all,” Rosenberg said, though he noted Trump’s repeated insults toward the judge.

Despite the severity of the charges, an analysis of similar cases shows that imprisonment is rare. Norm Eisen, who worked for House Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment, found that only about 10% of those convicted of falsifying business records serve jail time, usually in cases involving additional crimes.

Conversely, Ron Kuby, a seasoned New York criminal defense lawyer, argues that Judge Merchan, known for his tough stance on white-collar crimes committed by the wealthy and powerful, may very well impose a prison sentence. “It is substantially likely Judge Merchan will sentence Trump to jail or prison time,” Kuby said, despite the logistical challenges of incarcerating a former president under Secret Service protection.

During the trial, Judge Merchan threatened Trump with incarceration for violating a gag order, but it remains unclear if this will influence his sentencing decision. The sentence, set to be announced on July 11, is expected to be imposed concurrently rather than consecutively.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has not disclosed the type of sentence he will seek, stating that his office will present its case in court papers over the coming weeks. Arthur Aidala, a former prosecutor and current defense attorney, believes Judge Merchan will research similar cases to determine an appropriate sentence, likely considering Trump’s age and lack of criminal history.

Trump’s behavior during the trial, including his defiance of the gag order, is not expected to be a significant factor in the sentencing decision, according to Kuby. Instead, the judge will likely focus on the facts and circumstances of the crimes.

Despite the conviction, Trump is not expected to miss the Republican National Convention, where he is anticipated to accept the party’s nomination. Kuby explained that Trump would likely remain free while appealing the conviction, a process that could extend beyond the November election. If Trump loses his appeal at the state Appellate Division, he can further appeal to the state’s highest court and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a unique twist, if Trump were to become president again, he could not be incarcerated in a state prison during his tenure, as it would impede his ability to fulfill his constitutional duties. “If he becomes president of the United States, he cannot be incarcerated in a state prison while he’s in office,” Kuby said. “By the time he leaves office—if he leaves office—he’d be ready to be incarcerated.”

As Trump prepares for his sentencing and potential appeals, the nation watches closely, aware that this case could set significant legal precedents and influence the political landscape for years to come.

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Patrick Zarrelli

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