Legal analysts have revealed what will happen next in court after former President Donald Trump was indicted by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on Thursday night, with some saying that the former president will have to get his mugshot taken.
When someone is indicted, the charges are kept sealed by a judge until the defendant makes their first court appearance, analysts have said. It’s not clear what charges Trump faces as they’ve not been made public yet.
The Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office acknowledged late Thursday that Trump’s lawyers had been told about the indictment. “This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender … for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected.”
Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, told The Epoch Times on Thursday night that the former president is expected in New York City early next week for arraignment. He suggested that Tuesday, April 4, could be his arraignment date, coming two weeks after the initial arrest date that the former president had initially predicted.
According to a Bragg spokesperson, prosecutors and Trump’s legal team are negotiating a surrender date, when Trump would have to travel from his Florida home to the district attorney’s office in New York to be fingerprinted and photographed.
Trump would then make an initial appearance in court, where he would be formally charged. He would likely be allowed to head home afterward, experts said.
“He would be arraigned, face a trial date, and face a jury verdict just like anyone else,” said University of California, Berkeley law professor Andrea Roth in a statement. “He would have no more or fewer procedural protections than other defendants, and the state has the same powers—subpoena power, for example—it would normally have.”
She added: “Of course, the case will be high-profile, but other high-profile defendants have been successfully prosecuted. The defense attorneys will surely raise numerous issues, from intent to defraud to a statute of limitations bar, but that is also true in most high-profile cases. The New York case also has no formal consequence for the election; you can be an indicted or even convicted person and run for president. Eugene Debs, a Socialist candidate, ran from prison in the early 1900s.”
Former Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz told Newsmax earlier this month: “He will be mugshot and fingerprinted. There’s really no way around that.” But for Trump’s 2024 campaign, that could be a boost, he suggested, adding that Trump could use that photo as a campaign poster.
The U.S. Constitution does not bar a convicted felon from holding political office. It only lists three requirements: that the person is aged 35 or older, a natural-born American citizen, and has had to have lived within the U.S. for at least 14 years.
University Law Professor Craig Green told 6ABC that Trump “will surrender and be photographed, and fingerprinted, and he will make bail, and then he will leave the courthouse.” After that, he says that standard legal procedures would play out.
But some analysts have said that it’s not clear what the arraignment will look like. In some cases, a defendant is handcuffed and walked to the courthouse for arraignment in a process known as a “perp walk.” It’s not clear how that would proceed in the case of Trump, a former president who enjoys U.S. Secret Service protection.
Green, however, said that if the case ever makes it to a jury, it could prove to be more complex.
“If we ever got to a jury trial and he actually was supposed to go to jail, the timeline means this would be well after the election of 2024,” Green told the outlet. “So, at least it’s theoretically possible you could have a sitting president who would face state criminal charges and have to go to jail.”
In an ironic twist, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would typically have to give formal approval for an extradition demand in his capacity as governor. In a Twitter post on Thursday, the governor said he would not assist in any extradition request, calling the indictment politically motivated.
What Trump Might Do
John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, said that Trump’s lawyers could file a motion to dismiss the case on multiple legal grounds, likely arguing that it is based on a faulty legal theory that a misrepresentation of an alleged hush-money payment is not by itself a criminal act. They also likely will argue that charges against him—stemming from payments that were made in 2016—are barred by the statutes of limitations.
“Third, and perhaps most importantly, his lawyers will seek a dismissal based upon the argument of prosecutorial misconduct, and especially selective prosecution,” said a news release from Banzhaf’s office issued Thursday night. “In support they would point to the undisputed facts that several prosecutors (including Bragg himself once) who had reviewed the case declined to prosecute, and that there is no logical reason (e.g. newly discovered evidence) to suddenly reinvigorate what has been called a ‘zombie’ case now years after the facts became known.”
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The former president also could argue that “selective enforcement” could be at play, which is when a district attorney or other prosecutors attempt to single out an individual for charges “when they generally choose not to charge other people who committed similar offenses,” the release said.