Could Our Next President Be A Convicted Criminal? A Guide to Trump’s Criminal Cases

By Sofia Doucette

Former President Donald Trump's MugshotAP News
Over the past few months, former President Donald Trump has seemingly gone back to living in a government establishment, only this time it is courthouses instead of the White House.
The leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election has racked up multiple lawsuits and is facing a whopping 88 felony counts. As the first former president to ever face felony charges, Trump has left Americans questioning what will happen if a convicted criminal becomes the 47th President of the United States.
Trump is facing many lawsuits, but the most important ones are his criminal lawsuits, of which there are four. Criminal lawsuits involve breaking a law and the government making the defendant pay with fines or jail time, while civil lawsuits involve the government regulating a dispute between different private parties, such as two families or businesses.
One of Trump’s criminal lawsuits takes place right here in New York City. According to the State of New York, in 2016, Donald Trump falsified business documents accounting for payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. These payments were used as hush-money to Daniels so her accusation of an affair with Trump would not affect the 2016 Presidential election. Trump’s lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, allegedly paid Stormy Daniels, and then Trump secretly reimbursed Cohen. Trump is being charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents, and could face up to four years in prison. Trump has pleaded not guilty to these charges, and his trial date has been set to April 15.
In another case, Donald Trump is being charged with mishandling classified documents. Filed by the Justice Department in June 2023, these charges marked the first time a U.S. president has been charged with a federal crime. Trump allegedly kept thousands of classified documents after he completed his presidency, lied about their possession, and then refused to give them all back. He was faced with multiple subpoenas to turn over the documents, but the government did not get all of them until the FBI issued a search warrant on his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump is facing 40 charges for this case, most of which pertain to keeping information that could be a threat to national security. While the trial date is on the 20th of May, Trump’s legal team has been pushing to delay the trial.
In Georgia, Donald Trump is being charged for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. He and 18 other defendants, including former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, are facing ten counts related to falsifying statements and documents, tampering with computers, racketeering, imitating public officers, and more. The files were charged in August 2023, but there has been no progression as the District Attorney on the case, Fani Willis, is being questioned for her romantic relationship with a prosecutor she hired, as it can affect their work. Trump’s legal team has been questioning Willis’s practices in a strategy to gain support on the case, and to delay it as much as possible.
Trump's last criminal case has to do with the insurrection on the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. He is being charged with four counts, including attempting to violate civil rights, the United States, and the voting certification process. Trump has not taken any responsibility for the actions on January 6th. His legal team is attempting to delay the case by claiming it interferes with another civil case he is facing. As of yet, the former president has not been given a trial date.
While Trump is facing 88 felony counts, the chances of him facing prison time are quite low due to his large political support and financial capabilities. Currently, Trump and his legal team are delaying all the cases he is facing by filing numerous complaints and appeals against each case. Trump is the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, and if he were to win, government policy would not allow courts to continue the criminal case of  a current president. If he did win, he could also pardon himself of all four criminal cases, protecting himself when he leaves office. This would mark the first time a president gave himself a pardon.
Besides the four criminal charges former Trump is facing, he is also facing a growing pile of civil charges. In New York, he was accused of inflating the worth of his assets and was given a fine totalling to $454 million. The Attorney General, Leticia James, threatened to take away many of his grand properties if he did not pay, but Trump made it clear he could not afford that amount, even asking his supporters to donate to help him pay the large sum. Luckily for Trump, the judge lowered the fine to $175 million, but he is still struggling to come up with the reduced amount. He also faced a case of defamation by journalists E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexual assault and claims she was deeply affected by Trump’s persistent criticism.
While some believe these legal troubles are hurting Trump’s run for presidency, Trump’s campaign has leveraged these troubles by claiming that there is government corruption by Democrats; vowing to fix the country and “Make America Great Again” as the 47th President of the United States. The entirety of Trump’s current situation is certainly something that has never been seen before in American history, and is going to pose many more questions in the coming future.