What Charges Does Donald Trump Face? Let's Break It Down

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Updated Jun. 9 2023, 12:03 p.m. ET

Donald Trump
Source: Getty Images

On March 30, 2023, news broke that a grand jury in New York had voted to indict Donald Trump on multiple charges related to business fraud. Around three months later, on June 8, it was reported that Trump was indicted on seven counts regarding his mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Below, we break down what's going on.

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What charges is Trump facing?

In April 2023 in New York, Trump was charged with 34 felonies in a bookkeeping fraud case focused on his alleged role in a hush money payment that Trump associate Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The payment was made because Daniels alleges that she and Trump had an affair in 2006, and Cohen paid Daniels with his own money.

Donald Trump
Source: Getty Images
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After Trump won the election, he reimbursed Cohen for the payment, which is the main issue at the center of these indictments. Legal scholars agree that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is in somewhat uncharted legal territory in the case he's bringing. One of the central charges is that Trump falsified business records by claiming that his payment to Cohen was for legal fees.

In New York, falsifying business records is only a crime if it was done to cover up another crime. In this case, that crime would likely be a violation of campaign finance laws. In essence, Trump allegedly donated money to his own campaign through this hush money payment and failed to report on that activity accurately. This is the first time a former president has ever been indicted.

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In June 2023, it was reported that Trump was indicted on seven federal charges (including an espionage charge and obstruction-of-justice charges) in a special counsel's classified documents probe. The former president was under federal investigation after it was discovered that he had improperly taken a number of classified documents from the White House. He took the documents to Mar-a-Lago, his home in Florida. Those documents were already the subject of an FBI raid of that home.

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What other charges could Trump face?

There are other criminal investigations into the former president that are still ongoing. One, in Georgia, focuses on Trump's alleged attempts to influence the result of the 2020 election and ultimately swing the result in the state in his favor.

The federal investigation also includes Trump's alleged attempts to interfere in the outcome of the 2020 election, including any role he may have had in fomenting the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

As Trump continues to openly campaign for the next presidential election in 2024, it seems that these criminal cases will likely be a major part of the story about him.

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There could be more serious charges. Trump and his team also allegedly attempted to cook up what has been called a "fake electors" scheme in an effort to change the result.

Could Donald Trump face prison time?

Reports suggest that if Trump is convicted on the charges he faces in New York, he could face a maximum of four years in prison. However, prison time wouldn't be a mandatory component of a potential conviction. So, it's possible that Trump could be sentenced to some combination of parole and a fine as well.

Per the BBC, obstruction-of-justice charges could mean up to 20 years in prison but typically much less, while Espionage Act charges could result in up to 10 years behind bars.

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