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Former President Donald Trump exits the courtroom May 30, 2024, at the conclusion of his falsified business records trial in New York. (AP) Former President Donald Trump exits the courtroom May 30, 2024, at the conclusion of his falsified business records trial in New York. (AP)

Former President Donald Trump exits the courtroom May 30, 2024, at the conclusion of his falsified business records trial in New York. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson May 31, 2024
Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman May 31, 2024

In a landmark moment in U.S. political and legal history, a Manhattan jury on May 30 found former President Donald Trump guilty of multiple felony counts.

A unanimous jury in the New York case concluded that Trump was guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records in a scheme to cover up a hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump, who was president from January 2017 to January 2021, has been the presumptive  Republican nominee against the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden. It’s unclear how the 34-count conviction could affect the presidential race. But, no matter what happens, Trump is still allowed to run for president.

Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial, will sentence Trump July 11. This is four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is slated to be formally nominated as the party’s presidential candidate.

The Manhattan case is the first of four Trump trials. Because of legal delays in two federal cases on documents and election interference, and a Georgia election interference case, it may end up being the only trial to reach a jury verdict before November’s election. Trump is expected to appeal his conviction.

@politifact Replying to @celine #greenscreen Can Donald Trump even vote for himself now that a jury found him guilty of multiple felonies in New York? And can he still run for president with a felony conviction? Here's what we know so far. #trump #convicted #felony #newyork #florida #voting #election ♬ ■ News News-Drone-IT-AI(963995) - ImoKenpi-Dou

The 12-person jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days. 

In brief remarks at the courthouse following the verdict, Trump repeated his view that the process was "rigged" and promised to "fight to the end." He has regularly described the prosecution as politically motivated and complained that it was being held in New York City, a jurisdiction that overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2020.

Here’s what we know about what could happen next.

Can Trump still run for president after his conviction?

Yes. The U.S. Constitution upholds the principle that voters decide who should represent them, and its qualifications are limited to natural-born citizenship, age (35 by Inauguration Day) and U.S. residency (14 years).

Convicted felons have run for president in the past. Lyndon LaRouche was convicted in 1988 of tax and mail fraud conspiracy and ran for president multiple times from 1976 to 2004. Eugene Debs was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for an anti-war speech, then ran for president under the Socialist Party banner from a federal prison in Alabama in 1920. 

Will Trump lose his voting rights?

That’s unlikely

Trump is a registered voter in Palm Beach County, Florida. The Florida Department of State website states that "a felony conviction in another state makes a person ineligible to vote in Florida only if the conviction would make the person ineligible to vote in the state where the person was convicted." 

New York law passed a law in 2021 that restores voting rights for people convicted of felonies upon their release from prison. Voters don’t lose their right to vote unless they are in prison serving a sentence for a felony conviction. People whose prison sentences are stayed pending appeal keep their voting rights. 

What factors could influence the sentence Merchan imposes?

For a typical defendant, sentencing would hinge on such factors as prior criminal record, age, overall character, the seriousness of the charges, any expressions of remorse and whether the defendant had demonstrated respect for the court process, said Matthew J. Galluzzo, a New York attorney.

"In this case, though, there is of course the huge issue that he is the presumptive Republican nominee for president," Galluzzo said. "This makes it especially difficult for the court to impose a sentence that will not be accused of being politically motivated. So, you could see the judge basing his decision at least in part on considerations of the public's reaction."

Legal experts told PolitiFact that the prosecution winning guilty verdicts on all 34 counts without any acquittals likely won’t matter much at sentencing, partly because the falsifying business records charges were so similar.

A wild card is how much Merchan emphasizes Trump’s record of being held in contempt 10 times for violating gag orders, and for any additional comments he makes before sentencing, said Joan Meyer, a former federal and local prosecutor who is now partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP.

How flexible is the scheduling of court dates with a verdict now announced?

Because the presidential election continues, "the defense lawyers will undoubtedly ask for an expedited appeal" said Jerry Goldfeder, a New York election law attorney.

Legal experts agreed that Merchan will be open to reasonable scheduling concerns.

"Judges can always adjust their docket if scheduling adjustment requests are reasonable," Meyer said. "Given that Mr. Trump is a presidential candidate, I am sure that accommodations can be made for important events if they conflict with court proceedings."

Is Trump likely to receive prison time? 

This is difficult to predict, experts said, and what Merchan might decide is anyone’s guess.

Working in Trump’s favor: He lacks prior convictions and the charges are nonviolent felonies. Working against Trump: He has been held in contempt multiple times for breaching a gag order and hasn’t shown remorse.

"If he had just been silent throughout the trial, I would think there would have been no realistic probability of a jail sentence. But he has said things publicly that I think create the possibility of incarceration," Galluzzo said. "Normally speaking, being contemptuous of court and refusing to accept responsibility will get a defendant a jail sentence after trial. It would require a tremendous amount of backbone for Judge Merchan to do it, and I'm not sure he personally wants to deal with the blowback that would result."

How could an appeal of the guilty verdict play out?

Trump is all but certain to appeal, and that process would likely extend beyond Election Day. 

Trump has 30 days from sentencing to state he intends to appeal in writing. He would have months more to file his actual appeal, said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor. Once the appeal is filed, it would still take additional months before the appeals court hears oral arguments and, potentially, months more before the court renders a decision. 

It would not be unusual for the process to take a year or more, experts said.

If Trump is sentenced to incarceration, would he be imprisoned as his appeal progresses?

It would be within the judge’s power to sentence a defendant to jail and then order his or her incarceration as an appeal is underway. But Merchan is almost certain to "stay," or pause, the sentence’s enforcement until the appeal is complete.

"Any prison sentence would be short, and Mr. Trump would otherwise serve it before his appeal could be completed or decided," Galluzzo said. "So I would not expect him to be incarcerated until he has exhausted his appeals, which could take well over a year."

What are Trump's most fruitful avenues for appeal?

Legal experts said some of Trump’s arguments could be credible for the appeals court.

"I am sure we will see an appeal on every aspect of the case, including Judge Merchan’s decision not to dismiss the indictment, the jury selection process, evidentiary rulings admitting or limiting evidence, and the charge he gave to the jury on the law," said Cheryl G. Bader, an associate clinical law professor at Fordham University.

Bill Otis, former head of the Appellate Division of the U.S. attorney’s office for Virginia’s Eastern District, wrote before the verdict that Trump has a reasonable shot at seeing a guilty verdict overturned.

One argument, Otis wrote, could be that Merchan didn’t instruct the jury that paying hush money to Daniels was not, in itself, a crime. Another argument could focus on the judge’s instruction that jurors needed to unanimously agree on whether the business filings were falsified to further another crime, but that jurors didn’t need to be unanimous on which crime the filings were intended to conceal.

Otis wrote that Bragg "wanted to prosecute Trump for being A Bad Person and did so. But that wasn’t, and of course could not have been, the charge written down in the indictment, nor the one the court of appeals will review." 

Still, Galluzzo said, "I really don't think there were many controversial rulings in this case, aside from the gag order decision, which has already been upheld by the appeals courts."

Would Trump still have Secret Service protection if he goes to prison?

The Secret Service, which handles former presidents’ security, has been planning for the possibility of Trump’s incarceration for gag order violations or a postconviction sentence, The New York Times, CBS and ABC have reported.

"For all settings around the world, the U.S. Secret Service studies locations and develops comprehensive and layered protective models that incorporate state of the art technology, protective intelligence and advanced security tactics to safeguard those we protect," Special Agent Joe Routh told PolitiFact before the verdict. "In order to maintain operational security, we do not comment on specific protective operations."

If probation is a part of the sentence, how would that work?

Meyer said that if probation is imposed, Trump would be subject to certain restrictions and would have to report to a probation officer who would monitor his activities and whereabouts during the probationary period.

Could Biden pardon Trump? Could Trump pardon himself?

Because Trump was convicted on state charges, Biden cannot pardon him. The president can pardon only for federal charges, Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul could pardon Trump, Kalt added, but that likelihood is considered low because she is a Democrat.

Trump couldn’t pardon himself if he regains the presidency for the same reason that Biden can’t. (It’s also unclear whether presidents can pardon themselves for federal crimes, legal experts said.)

What’s the status of the other criminal cases against Trump?

It’s unlikely that the other criminal cases will go to trial before Election Day.

The federal election interference case has been paused because of Trump’s claims of presidential immunity. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on that case by early July.

The Supreme Court’s decision would not affect the New York case because much of the alleged conduct occurred before Trump’s presidency.

The trial for the federal classified documents was set to start in Florida in May. But the judge postponed the date amid pending legal motions and has not rescheduled.

In Georgia, an appeals court agreed May 8 to review a lower court ruling that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can continue to prosecute Trump. That decision makes it less likely the case will reach trial before November.

PolitiFact Senior Correspondent Amy Sherman contributed to this report.

Updated, 9:30 p.m.

CORRECTION, May 31, 2024: Trump has 30 days from the time of sentencing to signal his intent to appeal. An earlier version of this story was unclear on this point; it has been updated.

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Our Sources

Politico, It’s not just guilty or not guilty. Here are all the possible outcomes of the Trump trial. May 27, 2024

The New York Times, Trump’s Trial Has Entered Its Final Stages. Here’s What Comes Next. May 28, 2024

The New York Times, Could Trump Go to Prison? If He Does, the Secret Service Goes, Too, April 23, 2024

Norman Eisen, What Sentencing Could Look Like if Trump Is Found Guilty (New York Times op-ed), April 18, 2024

NPR, The 3 ways Trump’s hush money trial could end, as jury deliberations begin soon, May 27, 2024

CBS, What happens if Trump is convicted in New York? No one can really say, May 28, 2024

The Associated Press, Georgia appeals court agrees to review ruling allowing Fani Willis to stay on Trump election case, May 8, 2024

ABC, Secret Service prepares for if Trump is jailed for contempt in hush money case, April 23, 2024

Bill Otis, "Why a Trump conviction will be reversed," (Substack post), May 30, 2024

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking the False claim that the Trump’s NY jury verdict doesn’t have to be unanimous," May 29, 2024

PolitiFact, "Trump N.Y. trial countdown: What happens after the jury’s verdict?" May 29, 2024

PolitiFact, The Supreme Court will decide Donald Trump’s immunity case. Here are the arguments. April 22, 2024

Email interview with Joe Routh, Secret Service special agent, May 28, 2024

Email interview with Brian Kalt, Michigan State University law professor, May 30, 2024

Email interview with James Robenalt, a lawyer specializing in political prosecutions and partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP, May 30, 2024

Email interview with Jerry H. Goldfeder, senior counsel at the law firm Cozen O'Connor, May 28 and May 30, 2024

Email interview with Cheryl G. Bader, associate clinical law professor at Fordham University, May 29 and 30, 2024

Email interview with Karen Friedman Agnifilo, criminal defense attorney and former executive chief of the trial division and chief assistant district attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, May 28 and May 30, 2024

Email interview with Matthew J. Galluzzo, former Manhattan prosecutor now in private practice May 28 and May 30, 2024

Email interview with Bill Otis, former head of the Appellate Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Counsel to George H. W. Bush, May 28 and May 30, 2024

Email interview with Neama Rahmani, former prosecutor who later co-founded the firm West Coast Trial Lawyers. May 28 and May 30, 2024

Email interview with Melissa D. Redmon, University of Georgia school of law professor, May 28, 2024

Email interview with Joan Meyer, former prosecutor who is now partner at the law firm Thompson Hine LLP, May 30, 2024

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