Why Is What Donald Trump Did Illegal, and Will He Serve Jail Time?

The 12-person jury that unanimously found former President Donald Trump guilty of all 34 felony charges. What does that mean?

Melissa Willets - Author

May 31 2024, Published 11:11 a.m. ET

Former President Donald Trump and his attorney Todd Blanche exit the courthouse and speak to media after Trump was found guilty following his hush money trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 30, 2024 in New York City
Source: Getty Images

On May 30, 2024, former President Donald Trump was found guilty of all 34 counts against him in a New York City court.

The reaction to the verdict has been split. Some people are celebrating the divisive politician's decisive legal loss, while others are saying that the case was fixed from the start. So far, many questions are left to be answered.

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For example, will Trump serve any jail time? Can he still run for president? First, let's look at why what he did is illegal. Because, well, it is. Keep reading for all the details.

Stormy Daniels departs 'The View' studios on March 21, 2024, in New York City
Source: Getty Images
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So, why is what Donald Trump did actually illegal despite supporters' emotions running high?

Trump still has his supporters despite being found guilty of all charges.

Among his prominent defenders is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the trial outcome.

"Today’s verdict represents the culmination of a legal process that has been bent to the political will of the actors involved: a leftist prosecutor, a partisan judge and a jury reflective of one of the most liberal enclaves in America — all in an effort to 'get' Donald Trump," DeSantis tweeted in part.

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But the fact remains that what Trump did is illegal, according to the 12-person jury that unanimously found him guilty of all 34 felony charges.

To boil it down, per AP News, the Republican was convicted of attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by paying porn star Stormy Daniels hush money to keep mum about their alleged affair.

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Among the charges Trump was found guilty of are that he falsified documents to cover up the $130,000 payment to Daniels, and further tried to conceal the exchange by having the funds come from his lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Trump later reimbursed the embattled fixer and as prosecutors claim, recorded the payment as legal expenses, adding to a halo of suspicion surrounding the money.

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Will Donald Trump serve jail time?

Critics and longtime Trump haters may be chomping at the bit to see the former president behind bars. But multiple sources including NBC News are reporting that it's unlikely he will serve any jail time.

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Why would Trump not see the inside of a prison if he committed illegal acts? Based on his age, the lack of a criminal history, and other factors, Trump is more likely to be placed on probation or pay a fine — or none of those things.

We'll know for sure when Trump is sentenced on July 11.

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Can Donald Trump still run for president?

Surprisingly, Trump can still run for and get elected to the White House as a convicted felon, as stipulated by the Constitution of the United States of America.

Indeed, as reported by NBC News, a candidate only needs to be a "natural born citizen," be at least 35 years old, and have lived in America for at least 14 years.

The Constitution doesn't say anything about one's status as a convicted criminal.

Of course, folks are outraged about the fact that many felons can't even vote, although laws around this issue vary by state.

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