What happens if former President Trump is convicted of any crime?

Aug 17, 2023, 6:00 AM

FILE - Former President Donald Trump waves as he steps off his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington Na...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump waves as he steps off his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va. A slim majority of Americans approve of the U.S. Justice Department indicting Trump over his efforts to remain in office after losing the 2020 election, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

What will happen if former President Donald Trump is convicted before the election in any of the four criminal proceedings pending against him… and he is re-elected president? What happens if the proceedings are still pending, and he is re-elected?

“No one really knows the answer to these questions,” KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas said.  “This is all a matter of first impression.”

Break it down

There are two state cases and two federal cases pending against the former President. The two federal cases are brought in two different jurisdictions – Florida for the Mar-a-Lago documents case and Washington, D.C. for the January 6th case.
The two state cases are also brought in two different jurisdictions. New York for the hush money case and, most recently, Georgia for the racketeering charges connected to election fraud.

What if President Trump is convicted?

“He could certainly keep running,” explained FiveThirtyEight Senior Writer Amelia Thomson-Deveaux. “The constitution doesn’t say anything about a criminal record or a prison sentence standing in the way. A person just has to be 35 years old, a natural-born citizen and a resident of the U.S. for 14 years.” 

“Ironically, he might not be able to vote in his home state of Florida if he’s convicted of a felony, but he could certainly keep running,” Thomson-Deveaux added.

“When he filed to run, and even today, he had not been convicted of anything,” said Skordas. “In America, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, so these charges do not currently disqualify him from running.”

What if the cases are still pending and he wins?

“This is the million-dollar question,” Thomason-Deveaux said. “This is where we’re getting into uncharted territory. It depends on whether we’re talking about the federal or state cases.”

For the federal cases, if the former president wins the election, he could theoretically try to get the cases dismissed.

“He can replace the current Justice Department Chief [Merrick Garland], and he almost certainly will,” Skordas explained. “He’s going to have a harder time replacing a Special Counsel who, by definition, isn’t beholding to the Justice Department.”

The goal would be to get a friendlier prosecutor who may dismiss the federal charges.

But it’s different for the state cases. He can’t appoint the Georgia district attorneys or influence their appointment.

“There would probably be a legal case to decide if the case could continue against him while he is in office,” Thomson-Deveaux predicted. “The court will be faced with a genuinely complicated and novel question.”

It would be a case about the case. Clear as mud.

Could President Trump be incarcerated if convicted?

Former President Trump will certainly argue that he should be released on appeal. In light of the fact that he is currently the runaway frontrunner for the Republican nomination and is recognized all over the world, no court would consider him a flight risk.

But there is no guarantee. That’s a decision that the judge gets to make.

Here’s the tough one.

“If he’s convicted and sentenced to more than five years in Georgia, he’s actually not eligible for release on appeal,” Thomson-Deveaux explained. “The racketeering law he and the other defendants are charged under in the Georgia case has a minimum five years sentence if he is convicted.”

Imagine if he is convicted in Georgia, then wins the election. Is it possible he would be sworn in from a Georgia prison? It’s too much to think about. Our heads might explode.

A few things are certain

Skordas explained that there are a few things we can count on:

  1. Former President Trump will do everything he can to stall all of these cases until after the election so that he will be in a much better position to bring pressure on all four cases to be dismissed.
  2. He continues to raise tons of money and increase his lead in the Republican presidential polls, every time he’s indicted.
  3. Ultimately, Congress or the Supreme Court may have to weigh in to decide which, how much of and when all of these issues are resolved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.


Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...


Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

2 days ago

Example of ranked choice voting ballot. Twelve cities across Utah will participate in ranked choice...

Adam Small

Utah House passes bill that would end rank choice voting

Utah's ranked choice voting pilot program may come to and early end as the House passes a bill ending the program.

3 days ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump holds gold Trump sneakers at Sneake...

MICHAEL R. SISAK Associated Press

Here’s a look inside Donald Trump’s $355 million civil fraud verdict as an appeals fight looms

On the witness stand last year, Donald Trump proclaimed: "I have a lot of cash." After Friday's eye-popping penalty in his New York civil fraud trial, he's going to need it.

9 days ago

nick clegg...

Associated Press

Tech companies sign accord to combat AI-generated election trickery

Tech executives from Amazon, Google, Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and TikTok gathered to announce a new framework for responding to AI-generated deepfakes.

10 days ago

Gov. Spencer Cox speaks to reporters at the PBS monthly news conference at the Eccles Broadcast Cen...

Bridger Beal-Cvetko, KSL.com

Gov. Cox predicts a Donald Trump victory in the upcoming presidential election

The governor blamed President Joe Biden for not taking a tougher stance to stem the flow of migrants.

11 days ago

Voting signs at West Valley City Hall in West Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023....

Adam Small

Utah’s lieutenant governor would lose election authority with new bill

A new bill takes election authority from lieutenant governor's office and creates a voting council instead.

19 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

What happens if former President Trump is convicted of any crime?