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PolitiFact FL: Can Trump still run for president or vote as a convicted felon?

A side photo of former president Donald Trump speaking to reporters.
Julia Nikhinson
Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower, Friday, May 31, 2024, in New York. A day after a New York jury found Trump guilty of 34 felony charges, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee addressed the conviction and likely attempt to cast his campaign in a new light.

WLRN has partnered with PolitiFact to fact-check Florida politicians. The Pulitzer Prize-winning team seeks to present the true facts, unaffected by agenda or biases.

In a landmark moment in U.S. political and legal history, a Manhattan jury on May 30 found former President Donald Trump guilty of multiple felony counts.

A unanimous jury in the Manhattan case concluded that Trump was guilty of all 34 counts of falsifying business records in an alleged scheme to cover up a hush money payment to adult film actor Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump, who was president from January 2017 to January 2021, has been the presumptive Republican nominee against the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden. It’s unclear how the 34-count conviction could affect the presidential race. But, no matter what happens, Trump is still allowed to run for president.

Sentencing is to come July 11, four days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, where Trump is slated to be formally nominated as the party’s presidential candidate.

The Manhattan case is the first of four Trump trials. Because of legal delays in two federal cases on documents and election interference and a Georgia election interference case, it may end up being the only trial to reach a jury verdict before November’s election. Trump is expected to appeal his conviction.

The jury deliberated for about 10 hours over two days.

In brief remarks at the courthouse following the verdict, Trump repeated his view that the process was "rigged" and promised to "fight to the end." He has regularly described the prosecution as politically motivated and complained that it was being held in New York City, a jurisdiction that overwhelmingly voted for Biden in 2020.

Here’s what we know about what could happen next.

Since Trump has been convicted, when will sentencing occur?

Sentencing is scheduled for July 11 in the Manhattan courthouse and will be overseen by Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over the trial.

How would an appeal of the guilty verdict play out?

Trump is all but certain to appeal if he is convicted. The appeal process would probably extend beyond Election Day.

Trump has 30 days to state in writing that he will appeal. He would have months more to file his actual appeal, said Karen Friedman Agnifilo, criminal defense attorney and former executive chief of the trial division and chief assistant district attorney at the Manhattan District attorney’s office. Once the appeal is filed, it would still take additional months before the appeals court hears oral arguments and potentially months more before the court renders a decision.

It would not be unusual for the process to take a year or more, experts said.

Is Trump likely to receive a jail sentence?

An analysis by Norman L. Eisen, who was a counsel for Donald Trump’s first impeachment and trial, calculated that during Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s first year in office, his team alone filed 166 felony counts for falsifying business records against 34 people or companies. Eisen found that approximately 1 in 10 cases in which the most serious charge was falsifying business records in the first degree resulted in some term of imprisonment. But he cautioned that other charges may have tipped the scales toward incarceration in some of those prior sentences.

Merchan’s potential decision on sentencing in the Manhattan case is anyone’s guess. Working in Trump’s favor is that he doesn’t have prior convictions and the charges are a low-level nonviolent felony, legal experts said. Working against Trump is that he has been held in contempt multiple times for breaching a gag order.

Will Trump still have secret service if he goes to prison?
The Secret Service, which handles former presidents’ security, has been planning for the possibility of Trump’s incarceration for gag order violations or a postconviction sentence, The New York Times, CBS and ABC have reported.

"For all settings around the world, the U.S. Secret Service studies locations and develops comprehensive and layered protective models that incorporate state of the art technology, protective intelligence and advanced security tactics to safeguard those we protect," Special Agent Joe Routh told PolitiFact before the verdict. "In order to maintain operational security, we do not comment on specific protective operations."

Could Biden pardon him? Could Trump pardon himself?

Because Trump was convicted on state charges, Biden cannot pardon him. The president can pardon only for federal charges, Michigan State University law professor Brian Kalt said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul could possibly pardon Trump, Kalt added, but that likelihood is considered low because she is a Democrat.

Meanwhile, Trump couldn’t pardon himself if he regains the presidency for the same reason that Biden can’t. (It’s also unclear at best whether a president could pardon themselves for a federal crime, legal experts said.)

Can Trump still run for president after his conviction?

Yes. The U.S. Constitution upholds the principle that voters decide who should represent them, and its qualifications are limited to natural-born citizenship, age (35 by Inauguration Day) and residency in the United States (14 years).

Convicted felons have run for president in the past. Lyndon LaRouche was convicted in 1988 of tax and mail fraud conspiracy and ran for president multiple times between 1976 and 2004. Eugene Debs was convicted of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 for an anti-war speech, then ran for president under the Socialist Party banner from a federal prison in Alabama in 1920.

Will Trump lose his voting rights?

That’s unlikely.

Trump is a registered voter in Palm Beach County, Florida. The Florida Department of State website states that "a felony conviction in another state makes a person ineligible to vote in Florida only if the conviction would make the person ineligible to vote in the state where the person was convicted."

New York law passed a law in 2021 that restores voting rights for people convicted of felonies upon their release from prison. Voters don’t lose their right to vote unless they are in prison serving a sentence for a felony conviction. People whose prison sentences are stayed pending appeal do not lose their voting rights.

What’s the status of the other criminal cases against Trump?

It’s unlikely that the other criminal cases will go to trial before Election Day.

The federal election interference case has been paused because of Trump’s claims of presidential immunity. The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on that case by early July.

The Supreme Court’s decision would not affect the New York case because much of the alleged conduct occurred before Trump was president.

The trial for the federal classified documents was set to start in Florida in May. But the judge postponed the date amid legal motions that she has yet to rule on. She has not set a new date.

In Georgia, an appeals court agreed May 8 to review a lower court ruling that Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis can continue to prosecute Trump. That decision makes it less likely the case will reach trial before November.

PolitiFact Senior Correspondent Amy Sherman contributed to this article.

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