Donald Trump trial: Will the former president be found guilty?

The closing arguments and the jury's verdict are still missing – after that it will be clear whether Donald Trump will go down in history as the first former US president to be convicted in a criminal trial. But what happens after the jury has announced its decision?

The spectacular, first criminal trial against a US president is coming to an end. First the defense will address the jury with its closing argument, then the prosecution. And then it is up to the jury to form a verdict. How long will that take? Unclear. Anything is possible, between a few hours and a few weeks.

Acquittal for Donald Trump? Probably not

The old jury formula probably applies: the longer the jury deliberates, the more difficult it is to reach a verdict and the greater the likelihood that it will not reach a unanimous decision. If that were to happen, the trial would have to be repeated with new jurors. This so-called “mistrail” seems to be the goal of Donald Trump and his lawyers, as a complete acquittal is considered unlikely.

Nevertheless, after six weeks of the hush money trial, experts are unsure which way the decision will go. Both the prosecution and the defense were able to gain some points. The fact that Trump had sex with porn actress Stormy Daniels was discussed in as much detail as the hush money payments made years later by Trump's then-cleaner Michael Cohen. The prosecution's main allegation, that the accounting of these funds was actually a cover-up and thus election fraud, remained less clearly proven.

Jury chairman reads the verdict

However, the jury must be able to determine the defendant's guilt “beyond all reasonable doubt.” To this end, Judge Juan Merchan gives the jury detailed instructions on how they should interpret the law and the evidence – and in which cases they should not.

If the jury reaches a unanimous verdict, it would be read by the foreman and must be confirmed by Merchan. Defense and prosecution can request that the judge effectively overrule the jury.

  • If Donald Trump is acquittedhe can leave the court in his home town as a great triumphant and return to the presidential campaign empty-handed. In the run-up to the election in November, he will not miss any opportunity to sell his acquittal as the greatest possible success and once again portray the prosecution as a campaign and a witch hunt.
  • Should Donald Trump found guilty This will not have any major consequences for him at first. This is because several weeks or months can pass between the verdict and the announcement of the sentence. Until then, Trump will probably be released on bail as a first-time offender.

The maximum sentence for a crime like the one Trump is charged with is one to four years in prison under New York law. More often, people with no criminal record, including the former president, are sentenced to fines or probation. Actual prison sentences in such cases are often only a year or less. Trump could still be president even if convicted and incarcerated.

However, his lawyers are likely to appeal in this case. It is entirely unclear whether the relevant court will confirm or reject a guilty verdict and, above all, when – whether before the presidential election or afterward.

Sources: Reuters, NPR,