Can Trump run for president as a convicted felon?

Thirty-four charges, one often exasperated judge and a parade of witnesses.

After two days of deliberations,12 New Yorkers found Donald Trump guilty of all charges in his hush-money case.

It is a history-making verdict following a history-making trial. Trump is now the first former US president with a criminal conviction, and the first major party candidate to run for the White House as a felon.

So what happens next?

Here are some key issues to consider.

Can he still run for president?

Yes. The US Constitution sets out relatively few eligibility requirements for presidential candidates: they must be at least 35, be a “natural born” US citizen and have lived in the US for at least 14 years. There are no rules blocking candidates with criminal records.

But this guilty verdict still could sway November’s presidential election. A poll from Bloomberg and Morning Consult earlier this year found that 53% of voters in key swing states would refuse to vote for the Republican if he were convicted.

Another poll, from Quinnipiac University this month, showed 6% of Trump voters would be less likely to vote for him - consequential in such a tight race.

What happens to Trump now?

Trump has been free on bail throughout the trial and this did not change after the verdict was read on Thursday - the Republican was released on his own recognisance.

He will return to court on 11 July - the date Justice Juan Merchan has scheduled for a sentencing hearing.

The judge will have several factors to consider in sentencing, including Trump’s age.

The sentence could involve a fine, probation or supervision, or possibly prison time.

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York for a hearing related to Michael Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal attorney and confidante, April 16, 2018 in New York City
Trump's team may use Stormy Daniels' testimony as grounds for appeal [Getty Images]

Trump, who called the ruling a "disgrace", will almost certainly appeal the guilty verdict, a process that could take months or even longer.

His legal team would face the Appellate Division in Manhattan, and possibly the Court of Appeals.

This all means that even after sentencing it would be highly unlikely that Trump will leave the court in handcuffs, as he would be expected to remain free on bail while he appeals.

What would be the grounds for appeal?

The evidence of adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose alleged sexual encounter with Trump was at the heart of the case, could be one reason.

“The level of detail that was provided [by Ms Daniels] is really not necessary to the telling of the story," said Anna Cominsky, a professor at New York Law School.

"On the one hand, her detail makes her credible and as a prosecutor, you want to provide enough detail so the jury believes what she has to say. On the other hand, there's a line, where it could become irrelevant and prejudicial."

Trump’s defence team twice called for a mistrial during Ms Daniels’ testimony, motions that were denied by the judge.

Beyond that, the novel legal strategy taken by the District Attorney in this case may also provide grounds for appeal.

Falsifying business records can be a lower-level misdemeanour in New York, but Trump faced more serious felony charges because of a supposed second crime, an alleged illegal attempt to influence the 2016 election.

Prosecutors broadly alleged that violations of federal and state election laws, along with tax fraud, applied to this case. But they did not specify to the jury exactly which one was broken.

Legal experts say there are questions around the scope and application of the federal law that could form a basis for appeal. Never before has a state prosecutor invoked an uncharged federal crime, and there’s a question if the Manhattan District Attorney had the jurisdiction to do so.

Can Trump go to prison?

It is possible, though highly unlikely, that Trump will serve time behind bars.

The 34 charges he faced are all class E felonies in New York, the lowest tier in the state. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of four years.

As noted above, there are several reasons why Justice Merchan could choose a lesser punishment, including Trump’s age, his lack of previous convictions, and the fact that the charges involve a non-violent crime.

He could consider Trump's violations of the court’s gag orders during the trial.

It is also possible that the judge would weigh the unprecedented nature of the case, perhaps choosing to avoid putting a former president and current candidate behind bars.

A marcher holds a sight that says "Lock Him Up!"with a picture of President Donald John Trump behind bars the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives who just submitted the articles of Impeachment for President Donald John Trump as she walks in front of Trump International Tower during the Woman's March in the borough of Manhattan in NY on January 18, 2020, USA
Most observers say it is unlikely Mr Trump will receive a prison sentence [Getty Images]

There is also a question of practicality. Trump, like all former presidents, is entitled to lifelong protection from the Secret Service. This means that some agents would need to protect him in prison.

Even so, it would be extremely difficult to run a prison system with a former president as an inmate. It would be a huge security risk and expensive to keep him safe.

“Prison systems care about two things: security of the institution and keeping costs down,” said Justin Paperny, director of the prison consulting firm White Collar Advice.

With Trump, “it would be a freak show… no warden would allow it”, he said.

Can he vote?

It's likely that Trump will be able to vote this autumn.

Under Florida law - where Trump is a resident - a person with a felony conviction from another state is ineligible to vote only "if the conviction would make the person ineligible to vote in the state where the person was convicted".

Trump was convicted in New York, where felons are allowed to vote as long as they are not currently incarcerated.

This means that unless Trump is behind bars on 5 November, he should be eligible to cast his ballot.

Could he pardon himself?

No. Presidents can issue pardons for those who have committed federal offences. The hush-money case in New York is a state matter, meaning it would be out of Trump’s reach if he were to become president again.

The same is true for Trump’s case in Georgia, where he has been accused of criminally conspiring to overturn his narrow defeat by President Joe Biden in the state during the 2020 election. This case is currently tied up in appeals.

Pardon powers are unclear for Trump’s two federal cases - one concerning the alleged mishandling of classified documents, and the other on conspiring to overturn the 2020 election.

In the first, a Trump-appointed judge in Florida has indefinitely postponed the trial, saying setting a date before resolving questions about evidence would be “imprudent”. The second outstanding federal case also was delayed while an appeal from Trump plays out.

Neither are likely to take place before the November election, but even if they did, constitutional scholars disagree on whether a president’s pardon power includes himself. Trump could be the first to try.

With reporting from Madeline Halpert and Kayla Epstein