What happens if Trump is convicted in New York?  No one can really say

What happens if Trump is convicted in New York? No one can really say

When the supervising judge The criminal trial of Donald Trump discovered on May 6 that Trump had violated a gag order For the tenth time he told him that “the last thing I want to do is put you in jail.”

“You are the former president of the United States and possibly the next presidentalso,” said Judge Juan Merchán, reflecting on the transcendental weight of such a decision.

If imprisoning The presumptive candidate of the Republican Party for president is a choice Merchan could soon face again, if jurors in Trump’s “secret money” case vote in favor of condemn him. Final arguments started on tuesdayand the jury’s deliberations will continue.

It is difficult to predict what exactly would happen if the jury finds Trump guilty. Trump is being tried in state court in New York, where judges have broad authority to determine when sentences are handed down after convictions and exactly what they will be, according to former Manhattan prosecutor Duncan Levin. That differs from federal court, where there is typically a waiting period between conviction and sentencing.

“It’s done much more informally in state court. I’ve had cases where the jury comes back and says ‘guilty,’ and the judge thanks the jury, excuses them, and says, ‘Let’s sentence the defendant right now.'” Levin said. “Obviously, everything is a little different in this case than in the typical case.”

Each of the 34 felony counts of falsifying business records Trump faces carries a sentence of up to four years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He has pleaded not guilty.

Norm Eisen, an author and attorney, recently analyzed dozens of cases brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in which falsifying business records was the most serious charge at arraignment. He found that about one in 10 of those cases resulted in a prison sentence. But he also cautioned that those prosecutions often involved other charges and noted that the dynamics at play in Trump’s case make his sentencing particularly difficult to predict.

If Trump is convicted, Merchan would have plenty of leeway in determining a punishment, including sentencing Trump to probation or house arrest.

Levin said the option of confining Trump to his home, followed by a probationary period, could appeal to Merchan, who has repeatedly indicated he is concerned about limiting a presidential candidate’s ability to speak freely. This option would allow Trump to conduct interviews and access social media from his home.

Since the day Trump was the first indictedOn April 4, 2023, Merchan said he was reluctant to interfere with Trump’s ability to campaign.

“He’s a candidate for president of the United States. So those First Amendment rights are vitally important, obviously,” Merchan said that day.

And on May 6, he opined more broadly about the additional people who would be burdened by imprisoning Trump.

Merchan called incarceration “truly a last resort for me,” and said, “I’m also concerned about the people who would have to carry out that sanction: judicial officials, prison officials, the secret service, among others.”

Still, that day he warned Trump that jail is not out of the question.

“I want you to understand that I will do it, if necessary and appropriate,” Merchan said.

It’s a possibility that officials from state and federal agencies, including the Secret Service, have already had to consider, after the judge in the case threatened Trump with prison after his 10th violation of a gag order. As a former president, Trump is entitled to Secret Service protection for the rest of his life, wherever he may be. Behind bars, prison officials would in turn be responsible for protecting agents assigned to Trump.

Where Trump might serve any jail or prison sentence is one of many factors that remain up in the air. Shorter sentences can be served at the city’s Rikers Island prison complex, which has two wings typically used for high-profile or infamous inmates. (Neither of them, of course, has ever held anyone who comes with their own security team.)

Officials should have a plan in place, just in case, Levin said.

“He could be hospitalized on the spot,” Levin said.

Katrina Kaufman and Nicole Sganga contributed reporting.

Editor’s Note: This article previously mischaracterized the nature of discussions between local and federal officials.