Donald Trump made American history when he became the first former president to be indicted on criminal charges on Thursday. Prosecutors working for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have been building a case about hush money payments made by former Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to former porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 during the 2016 presidential campaign to buy her silence about her claims that she had an affair with Trump a decade earlier.
While Trump will be fingerprinted and mugshot taken, he likely won’t be displayed on camera in handcuffs or placed in a holding cell, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg earlier this month. He will likely remain in the custody of Secret Service agents assigned to his protection team.
The accusation is one of several legal issues facing Trump, including an investigation by the Atlanta district attorney and an investigation by the federal special counsel.
Here’s a legal breakdown of what an impeachment is and what may follow for Trump:
An indictment is an accusatory document filed with a court that charges one or more people with crimes. The indictments detail who is charged, what charges they face and how they allegedly broke the law. All defendants in the US are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. To secure a conviction, prosecutors must prove all the elements of a crime.
Trump’s lawyer says he was informed of the charges and vowed to fight them “promptly and aggressively.” Details of what Trump’s faces are not yet public because the indictment is still sealed.
Does someone who is accused get arrested?
Someone can be charged after being arrested, which is often the case in murder and other violent crimes. After an indictment, a defendant may be arrested or may turn himself in to authorities. Fingerprints are then taken and photographed. They are informed that they have the right to remain silent and the right to a lawyer. They may or may not be handcuffed, depending on the offence.
A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office said Donald Trump’s attorney was contacted Thursday night to arrange for him to be handed over for the arraignment.
In some notorious cases, the defendant may also have to endure a so-called criminal walk, in which the suspect is publicly paraded in handcuffs. Trump is not expected to face that: His lawyer Joseph Tacopina said earlier this month that the former president would turn himself in to authorities if he is charged.
In New York, up to 23 citizens known as a grand jury vote on an indictment. Grand juries are an investigative body that meets in secret to consider evidence and hear witness testimony without potential defendants present. Prosecutors cross-examine witnesses, but grand jury members may also ask questions. Grand juries will indict if they believe prosecutors have presented sufficient evidence.
Cohen testified before the grand jury considering the charges against Trump, and other witnesses involved in the hush money transaction also appeared. In New York state, prosecutors often offer potential defendants the opportunity to testify. Trump rejected that offer. Robert Costello, a lawyer who said he once advised Cohen, said he testified Monday as a rebuttal witness for the defense.
What happens after an accusation?
A defendant facing felony charges in New York must appear before a state supreme court judge for arraignment. At that hearing, the judge reads the charges and the defendant pleads guilty or not guilty. In the New York cases, defendants like Trump are released without having to post bail, unless they are charged with a violent crime. The judge will set dates for future hearings to resolve disputes about the law, evidence, or witnesses.
The Trump grand jury investigation in Manhattan is being overseen by Juan Merchan, the same New York State Supreme Court judge who handled the tax fraud prosecution of Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg and the tax fraud trial. of the two companies of the former president.
No, an indictment only begins the process of determining if someone is guilty. A defendant can also settle a case by pleading guilty and admitting to her crimes. But defendants who want to contest the charges can go to trial before a judge or jury. Sometimes a judge will dismiss an indictment or parts of it before the case goes to trial.
If a defendant is found guilty at a trial or plea, a judge sentences them, often to prison if convicted of a felony.
What charges could Donald Trump face?
Legal experts believe Trump is likely to face charges related to falsifying business records. For such a charge to be a felony under New York law, it must also be related to a second underlying crime. That offense could be related to campaign finance violations.