Does Trump have to be in court every day of hush money trial?

Does Donald Trump have to attend court every day the ‘hush money’ trial is taking place?

Amelia Neath
Monday 15 April 2024 11:57 BST
Stormy Daniels says she took hush money deal so that Trump ‘couldn’t have me killed’

Donald Trump will be in court on Monday, becoming the first American president to face a criminal trial.

It focuses on accusations by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that Trump falsified business records, a felony in the state of New York, including to conceal a “hush money” payment he is alleged to have made to the adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The payment was allegedly made amid the 2016 presidential election to try and silence her over an extramarital affair Daniels alleges she had with the former president more trhan a decade .

The former president is required to be at the trial every day, as New York state law makes it a necessity for defendants to be personally present during the trial.

There are a few exceptions to this rule, however, as Mr Trump could ask to be excused, and if no one objects, an order can be issued after it is declared the defendant is waiving their rights to be present.

A defendant who also acts disorderly and disruptive in the courtroom, hindering the trial proceedings, can also be removed from the court if they continue to do so after a warning.

After multiple attempts to delay the trial, the proceedings are slated to start on Monday, and Mr Trump is required to be there—except on Wednesdays and the weekend when the trial is off. New York Justice Juan Merchan denied Mr Trump’s most recent attempt to adjourn the trial due to alleged prejudicial pre-trial publicity.

The trial days are expected to last from 9.30am ET (1.30pm GMT) to 4.30pm ET. Although the start time on Monday is 10am ET.

While the trial has restricted Mr Trump’s election campaigning, questions have arisen as to whether the outcome could affect his presidential bid altogether, specifically, if he will go to prison.

The former president is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records; each count carries a maximum sentence of four years in prison, making the maximum total 136 years.

Sentences like this, however, are only handed out with mitigating circumstances in mind, like previous convictions and how serious the crime was.

A judge is not likely to sentence Mr Trump to anything more than fines, or at the most, probation and community service, as the accusations against the former president are largely victimless.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty, but has claimed he will testify at the trial in Manhattan, after he said at a press conference in Mar-a-Lago on Friday that he would “testify, absolutely.”

“They don’t give us anything. It’s a witch hunt that is taking place in New York,” Mr Trump said.

If he does testify in the case, Mr Trump will join an expected lineup of other high-profile witnesses that includes former White House aides as well as his former attorney Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels.

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