DONALD TRUMP IS NOW a convicted felon. In New York, the 45th POTUS and the presumptive Republican nominee has been charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records, with the charges relating to a hush money payment Trump made to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. The payment was made in attempt to keep Daniels from going public with the story of their affair in 2006, and therefore influence his election win, the jury concluded.

After the verdict was handed down, Trump spoke to reporters outside the Manhattan court, calling the trial a “disgrace”. “This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” he said.

In the United States, it’s protocol for convicted felons to face sentencing, which often results in jail time. And while nobody is above the law, history has shown us Trump is about as close as it comes.

So what does his convicted felony mean, and can he still run for President in the November 2024 election? Here, all of your most pressing questions about Trump’s felony conviction, answered.

What is felony, and why was Trump charged with it?

In the United States, a felony is defined as a crime regarded as more serious than a misdemeanour. It is punishable by a term of imprisonment of one year or more. Burglary, arson, aggravated assault, kidnapping and fraud are all examples of felony.

Trump was convicted with felony falsification of business records in the first degree. This is classified as a class E felony in New York, the least serious category, and punishable by up to four years in prison.

The falsification relates to a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, for her silence about her affair with Trump. The payment was disguised in Trump’s books as ‘legal expenses’, paid by his lawyer at the time Michael Cohen. In court, prosecutors argued the $130,000 was effectively an illegal campaign contribution, because it was done to benefit Trump’s 2016 campaign, to keep female votes on side.

Will Trump go to jail?

It’s a question we’ve asked multiple times, including in June 2023 when Trump was accused of federal crimes, for posing a national security risk by storing highly sensitive documents in his Mar-a-Lago residence, including in his bathroom, months after leaving the White House.

Being convicted of a felony, however, is easily the closest Trump will come to facing prison time. However, the reality of him being incarcerated is unlikely. Why? Experts are arguing it’s because this is his first offence, and the crime is a non-violent, white-collar crime.

According to numerous news reports, any punishment is likely to consist of fines, probation, community service or some combination of all of the above. Probation is very likely, which would involve Trump reporting regularly to New York City’s probation department. Also, the fact he is a former president, has a Secret Service detail and is also the presumptive Republican nominee makes imprisoning Trump logistically difficult.

Can Trump still run for President?

Legally, the conviction will not affect Trump’s ability to run for president, as the US Constitution does not state that people who have been convicted of crimes can’t run for POTUS. Will the outcome of the verdict affect his popularity enough that his polling numbers will take a dive, therefore ruining his chance of a successful election? That remains to be seen. But if recent history has told us anything, there’s not much Trump can do that will deter his fans.

Certainly, Trump himself is ploughing right ahead. Posting to his Instagram shortly after the verdict was handed down, he wrote: “The real verdict will be on November 5th by THE PEOPLE—they know what happened here!”

When will Trump be sentenced?

The sentencing will take place in New York on July 11. The sentencing couldn’t come at a more critical time. It will happen four days before the start of the Republican National Convention, and two weeks after the presidential debate is slated for 27 June. Again, while it’s unlikely Trump will be sentenced to prison, the world will be watching on to see what level of justice is served.


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