What’s Next After Felony Conviction: Can Trump Still Run For President? Is He Going to Jail?


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The verdict is in: Donald Trump has just been found guilty on all 34 felony counts in his New York trial.

Legally speaking, this makes him a convicted felon.

So, what comes next?

Can Trump still run for president?

In short, the answer is yes.

His conviction does not prevent him from running for president. And, he is not the first to do so.

CNN explained further:

The US Constitution lays out just three requirements for presidential candidates. They must:

  • Be a natural born citizen.
  • Be at least 35 years old.
  • Have been a US resident for at least 14 years.

There is also precedent for presidential campaigns, albeit unsuccessful ones, being mounted from prison cells.

Eugene Debs, the Socialist leader, conducted his 1920 presidential campaign from federal prison in Atlanta, where he was serving a 10-year sentence for sedition. He had encouraged Americans to oppose the draft in World War I.

The Supreme Court, in that case, had affirmed his conviction, arguing he was convicted not for opposing the draft but for encouraging people not to comply with it. The decision keeping Debs in jail was written by then-Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes just a few months before Holmes did a famous about-face on free speech that put the US on course for the way we view the First Amendment today.

Thomas Doherty, an American studies professor at Brandeis University, wrote last year about Debs, noting that he remained in prison as votes were cast and counted – he got nearly a million, more than 3% of the vote. Even after the Sedition Act was repealed, Debs was kept in prison. Then-President Woodrow Wilson refused to issue a pardon. Wilson’s successor and Debs’ rival in 1920, Warren G. Harding, later commuted Debs’ sentence in 1921.

NATIONAL POLL: Will You Still Vote For President Trump After “Guilty” Verdict?

Another question you might be wondering about after the verdict dropped is: will Trump do any jail time?

It’s not likely, but the answer on this one is a bit more murky.

The felony charges Trump was found guilty of come with a sentence of up to 4 years, but he could do no time at all.

We won’t really know for sure until Trump is sentenced. His sentence date is scheduled for July 11th but runs the possibility of being delayed.

There’s also potential for Alvin Bragg to lock Trump up during sentencing.

Legal expert Arthur Aidala believes that the chances of Trump doing jail time are “slim-to-none.”

From Business Insider:

The chances of Donald Trump spending any time behind bars after a jury found Trump guilty on all counts in his New York hush-money trial are slim to none, legal experts told Business Insider.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could seek to lock Trump up during sentencing, experts told Business Insider, given that felony falsifying of business records allows a sentence of anywhere from zero jail time up to a maximum of four years in prison.

But first-time offenders virtually never go to jail for these kinds of non-violent, low-level felonies. Prosecutors can also ask for other penalties — including a hefty fine, community service, and probation.

“I can’t say for absolute 100% certainty there can’t be jail because on the books, he can go to jail,” said high-profile defense attorney and former Brooklyn prosecutor Arthur Aidala.

But, Aidala said, “I do not see a scenario where Donald Trump spends one minute in jail.”

Aidala and other defense attorneys told Business Insider that it is beyond rare for a defendant in New York to get locked up on a non-violent, first-offense, E-level felony.

“In New York State and in particular New York County, it is extraordinarily rare for a 70-something-year-old man, first arrest, who was convicted of a low-level non-violent felony to be incarcerated,” said Mark Bederow, a defense attorney and former prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

But Bederow noted that there is “no comparison” to this “unprecedented” case as Trump — a frontrunner for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

“If there was anyone who would be incarcerated over this type of crime, it would be an elected official,” said former Manhattan prosecutor, Jeremy Saland, now a lawyer in private practice. “That said, to think for a moment that Trump is going to be incarcerated? That would shock me, for practical reasons and for reasons of allowing anger and divisiveness to fester.”

NBC News examined more possible outcomes of Trump’s sentencing:

The minimum sentence for falsifying business records in the first degree is zero, so Trump could receive probation or conditional discharge, a sentence of no jail or up to four years for each offense. Trump would likely be ordered to serve the prison time concurrently for each count, so up to four years, total.

“The judge could sentence him to anything between zero and the max,” Horwitz said. “So he could sentence him to a period of months in jail, he could sentence him to a period of weeks in jail, he could sentence him to a sentence where he is required, for example, to go to jail every weekend for a period of time and then serve the rest of the sentence on probation.”

In an analysis of comparable cases brought by the Manhattan district attorney’s office, Norm Eisen, who has written a book about Trump’s 2020 election-related federal indictment and served as special counsel in the first impeachment of the former president, found that about 10% resulted in imprisonment. But the circumstances surrounding the case make any across-the-board comparison difficult.

Trump could also be sentenced to home detention, where he would wear an ankle bracelet and be monitored rather than going to jail. Horwitz suggested that a home detention sentence, which walks a middle ground between no punishment and a stint in state prison, might be the most likely outcome. It would also satisfy Trump’s unusual security and political situation.

A home detention sentence would also make it possible for Trump to continue campaigning — albeit virtually — with the ability to hold news conferences and remain active on social media. Throughout the trial, Justice Juan Merchan stressed the importance of allowing Trump the ability to campaign and exercise his First Amendment rights as he seeks another term in the White House. But it’s just part of the equation that the judge must weigh in his decision.

Now, the real kicker: Even in the rare case Donald Trump does end up in jail, would this prevent him from becoming president if elected in November?

Nope.

It might even result in his sentence being suspended so that he can fulfill his presidential duties — which would be difficult to do from behind bars.

Per Politico:

Now, if Trump is sentenced to prison and also wins the presidency, that would pose obvious practical complications. It’s implausible he could run the country from a cell, and some legal experts say the resulting constitutional crisis would require that his sentence be suspended so that he could fulfill his duties as the nation’s chief executive. It may be a few weeks before the judge in the hush money case delivers Trump’s sentence, which could span up to four years behind bars — or no time at all.

Whatever happens, President Trump still has a lot of support.

Check out these reactions to the NY verdict on X:

Trump will be the first US president to win from jail

— borovik (@3orovik) May 30, 2024

We will vote for President Donald J Trump even if he’s in jail.

— Malik Obama (@ObamaMalik) May 30, 2024

Trump isn’t going to jail so
suck it Lefties. You are only making MAGA stronger.
Trump 2024 ❤️🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/RbXdInDOlk

— Farm Girl Carrie 👩‍🌾 (@FarmGirlCarrie) May 30, 2024

One man says the Trump verdict actually swayed him the opposite way — to vote for Trump instead of Biden:

I have never voted for Donald Trump before, but I will certainly be voting for him now.

The Democrats are a clear and present danger to truth, justice, and the American way. They must be defeated.

MAGA

— Daniel Kotzin (@DanielKotzin) May 30, 2024

What do you think?

Will Trump’s guilty verdict only make his win in November even bigger?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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