What prison sentence could Trump face following guilty conviction in hush money trial?

Republican presidential contender is the first former US president to be convicted of felony charges

Joe Sommerlad
Sunday 02 June 2024 16:44
Trump makes unfounded claim hush money trial was ‘rigged’ after guilty verdict

Donald Trump could soon become the first American president in history to serve time in prison after a New York jury found him guilty of all 34 felony counts in his hush money trial.

The presumptive GOP presidential nominee was found guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election. The jury deliberated for roughly nine and a half hours before reaching their decision on Thursday afternoon — just minutes before Judge Juan Merchan was set to dismiss them.

Trump’s sentencing is scheduled for 11 July, just four days before the Republican National Convention (RNC), where delegates will almost certainly make him the official GOP presidential candidate.

Both sides can file motions in the case until 13 June.

Ms Daniels, her former lawyer Keith Davidson, Trump’s former “fixer” turned arch nemesis Michael Cohen, ex-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and former Trump White House aides Hope Hicks and Madeleine Westerhout all took the stand to testify in the trial.

The 34 charges were “stepped up” from misdemeanors to class E felonies because prosecutors said the crimes were carried out in an effort to commit or conceal another crime – these crimes being election conspiracy and campaign finance and tax law violations.

Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media the day a New York jury convicted him of 34 felony counts
Former US President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to the media the day a New York jury convicted him of 34 felony counts (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Trump could theoretically face more than a decade in prison, according to CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates.

Under New York state law, the maximum prison sentence for a Class E felony is four years in prison. New York imposes a 20-year sentencing cap for this type of offence, with a decision on whether the sentences run concurrently or consecutively left up to the judge.

Given that Trump has no prior criminal record and the crimes are non-violent in nature, it is likely he will face no jail time.

Instead, New York Justice Juan Merchan could impose other penalties such as fines, probation or conditional discharge in lieu of jail time.

The bigger questions surrounding the hypothetical incarceration of Trump is what kind of Secret Service detail he might receive as the first former president-turned-inmate.

As the former president campaigns in the wake of this conviction, he is also battling three other criminal indictments in Florida, Washington DC and Georgia.

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