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Donald Trump is Facing 91 Charges: What are the Chances He Goes to Jail?

Donald Trump is the first and only former president to be charged criminally and is thus the first who could also face serious jail time.

President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. By Gage Skidmore.

Former President Donald Trump is Facing 91 Charges – What are the Chances He Goes to Jail? – Former President Donald Trump will “have his day in court.”

In fact, he’ll have several. He faces three major civil cases in New York City, with the first beginning on October 2, followed by another set to begin on January 15, 2024, and yet another on January 29. 

He is also facing four separate criminal cases, where he has been indicted on a total of 91 charges, including 44 federal charges and 47 state charges.

He had previously pleaded not guilty to all charges in three of the cases and entered a not guilty plea on Thursday relating to the Georgia election interference case.

A trial date in that case hasn’t been set, but the former president’s federal trial in Washington, D.C. for his role in the January 6 Capitol Attack is set to begin on March 4, 2024.

Trump’s then due in court for the criminal case brought by the State of New York for his role in a hush money payment scheme made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, with the trial scheduled to begin on March 25. He is also facing federal charges for his mishandling of classified documents, and the trial date is set for May 20, 2024, in Miami, Florida.

Donald Trump is the first and only former president to be charged criminally and is thus the first who could also face serious jail time.

What are the actual chances he goes to jail for, well, something? 

Not Concerned at All

The former president’s legal team has attempted to downplay the legal jeopardy that Mr. Trump faces.

His attorney, Alina Habba, told Fox News host Shannon Bream, “We’re not concerned because we know the facts of these cases, which I can’t get into obviously for privileged reasons.”

Of course, Trump doesn’t face the risk of going to prison for the three civil cases – where the charges range from his lying about the value of the company’s assets to a defamation case brought by writer E Jean Carroll to an alleged pyramid scheme – but those could still prove costly, and could jam up his schedule.

Prison Time – and Federal Pardon?

The criminal cases are more serious, and he could face years of both federal and state prison time if he is convicted on any one of the 91 counts.

Although he could not vote if convicted, he’d still be able to run for office and could even be elected president if convicted.

As president, Trump has claimed could technically pardon himself in any of the federal charges, although no president has actually done so.

It is still considered a “gray area” and “uncharted waters” to mix metaphors – and pardoning one’s self could be considered an impeachable act.

Former President Richard Nixon’s Office of Legal Counsel even concluded that the president couldn’t pardon himself – arguing “the fundamental rule that no one may be a judge in his own case.

It is likely the Supreme Court would have the final say on the matter.

However, another president could pardon Trump – just as Nixon was pardoned by President Gerald Ford. Some of Trump’s GOP rivals have said they’d pardon the former president, but it is unlikely President Joe Biden would offer a pardon, even as some have suggested it might be in the country’s best interests

State Cases Are a Different Matter

The outstanding debate is what the state charges could mean for Trump. Even if reelected, presidential power doesn’t extend to the state level, and he couldn’t pardon himself if convicted of crimes in either the Empire State or the Peach State.

In Georgia, pardoning power is actually out of the hands of the governor, and instead, pardons are issued by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles, a five-member panel authorized by the state constitution.

Moreover, the board only considers applications beginning at least five years after an individual has completed his or her sentence. That is also different from the federal system, where a president could issue a pardon even before a person has been prosecuted.

“A pardon in Georgia is for a conviction, so someone can’t seek a pardon on the front end of a matter,” Erin Donohue-Koehler, pro bono coordinator for the Georgia Justice Project, which provides legal representation and assistance for people affected by the state’s criminal justice system, told earlier this month.

New York’s Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul does have the power to pardon felonies, but it would be unlikely she would show any support for the former president, including a pardon.

Yet, as also noted, Trump’s New York charges – which include 34 felony counts of falsifying business records – are less serious than the Georgia charges and carry less risk of prison time.

Thus Georgia should remain on Trump’s mind.

So Can Donald Trump Actually be President?

The final question then is – if convicted and sentenced to jail – can Trump serve as president? Again, we’re in truly uncharted waters.

“The Constitution has very few requirements to serve as President, such as being at least 35 years of age. It does not bar anyone indicted, or convicted, or even serving jail time, from running as president and winning the presidency,” University of California, Los Angeles law professor Richard L. Hasen told CNN earlier this month.

However, as previously reported there is still the issue of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution that could disqualify Trump as it forbids holding office by former officeholders who then participate in insurrection or rebellion.

The bottom line: expect lots and lots of legal challenges and debates over the issue next year. This one almost certainly will go to the Supreme Court, and perhaps DpTrump will be happy he appointed three of the current justices. It might be what keeps him out of jail and perhaps allows him back in the Oval Office if he does actually win the election.

Author Experience and Expertise

A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. 

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Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.