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.


Salt Lake City's 2023 mayoral candidates, from left to right: community activist Michael Valentine,...

Carter Williams, KSL.com

What Salt Lake City’s mayoral candidates have to say about Great Salt Lake’s future

The three Salt Lake City candidates for Mayor discuss the issues surrounding the Great Salt Lake ahead of the November election.

18 hours ago

Republican presidential candidates former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ...

Eric Bradner, Gregory Krieg, Steve Contorno, Daniel Strauss and Arit John

Takeaways from the second Republican presidential debate

Listen to the recap from the second Republican debate today at 9:05 on Dave & Dujanovic! (CNN) — The Republicans vying to become the top alternative to Donald Trump in 2024 opened their second debate Wednesday night with new attacks on the front-runner, but their efforts to separate themselves from the pack were marred by a chaotic environment, […]

22 hours ago

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson is pictured speaking. House Speaker Brad Wilson has filed as a candi...

Larry D. Curtis

Brad Wilson will seek vacant Senate seat after Mitt Romney’s term ends

Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson announced Wednesday that he will run for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.

1 day ago

Image of former President Donald Trump walking to speak with reporters before departure from Hartsf...

Mark Jones

Breaking down President Trump’s decision to skip second GOP debate

Former President Donald Trump will skip next week's GOP presidential debate in California. Instead, he plans to visit Michigan and visit with workers there.

8 days ago

The OLRGC released an analysis of the expected topics to be discussed during a special session of t...

Lindsay Aerts

Republicans have three Utah lawmakers to replace, here’s how that happens

In just the last month, three Republican lawmakers have stepped down. The responsibility for replacing them falls on the Republican County and State conventions.

10 days ago

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) answers questions in his office after announcing he will not seek re-electi...

Simone Seikaly

Here’s what’s next after Sen. Mitt Romney announced no reelection run

Utah Democrats and Utah Republicans are settling in with the news that Sen. Mitt Romney will not be seeking another term.

14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

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.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

close up of rose marvel saliva blooms in purple...

Shannon Cavalero

Drought Tolerant Perennials for Utah

The best drought tolerant plants for Utah can handle high elevations, alkaline soils, excessive exposure to wind, and use of secondary water.

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