Why Donald Trump Isn't A Convicted Felon (Yet)

On May 30, 2024, Donald Trump pulled off a historic first: he became the first former president of the United States to be found guilty of felony crimes. However, it's inaccurate to say that he's a convicted felon at this time because, well, that's just not how the law was designed. While he's guilty in his infamous hush money trial, the "convicted felon" title is still pending.

The presumptive 2024 Republican nominee was found guilty of all 34 criminal counts of falsifying business records. This stems from reimbursements he made to his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, for a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels in an attempt to avoid derailing his 2016 presidential campaign. "The 12 everyday jurors vowed to make a decision based on the evidence and the law, and the evidence and the law alone. Their deliberations led them to a unanimous conclusion beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant Donald J. Trump is guilty," Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a press conference, according to CNN.

In true Trump fashion, his words about his guilty verdict say it all. "This was a rigged, disgraceful trial," he declared. "We didn't do anything wrong. I'm a very innocent man." The final word will come on July 11, 2024, during his scheduled sentencing. Until then, he remains not a convicted felon, but that could change depending on the outcome.

Trump's sentencing isn't until July 2024

Donald Trump's sentencing is set for July 11, 2024, just days before the Republican National Convention kicks off. So, we're in this strange limbo where he's guilty of felony crimes but not quite a convicted felon — at least not until he gets his official sentence. During sentencing, the judge will decide his fate, which could range from a slap on the wrist to time behind bars. Trump's crimes fall under the Class E felony category in New York, which is the lowest level of felony in the state. He could face a fine, probation, or up to four years in prison.

"The judge could sentence him to anything between zero and the max," defense lawyer Dan Horwitz explained to CBS News. "So he could sentence him to a period of months in jail, he could sentence him to a period of weeks in jail, he could sentence him to a sentence where he is required, for example, to go to jail every weekend for a period of time and then serve the rest of the sentence on probation."

Adding to the complexity is Trump's status as a former president, which means he still gets the presidential perk that is the Secret Service. Sending him to prison would be a logistical nightmare because where he goes, they go. But the agency noted in a statement that Trump's conviction has "no bearing on the manner in which the United States Secret Service carries out its protective mission," as noted by CNN.

Trump's team is fighting hard for an appeal

While Donald Trump may soon be a convicted felon, his legal team is already gearing up to challenge the conviction in higher New York courts and possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. "All options are on the table," Trump's attorney Will Scharf said, as reported by The Hill. "And we are actively considering all options that could lead to justice for President Trump here, because justice has not been done in this New York courtroom today."

The appeal process could drag on for ages, and even if his legal team pulls off a miracle, it might not happen before Election Day. And yes, despite his conviction, Trump is very much still eligible to run for — and win — the presidency because the Constitution doesn't care if you're a felon. Trump still meets the bare minimum qualifications, which include being over 35 years old, being a natural-born American citizen, and having lived in the U.S. for 14 years or more.

What comes next is anyone's guess, but Mark Bederow, a veteran defense attorney and former Manhattan prosecutor, told Politico that Trump's sentencing will be one for the books — after all, Trump is Trump. "You can get Trump live in the round screaming and yelling about pretty much anything," he said. "You just don't know what he's going to say." So buckle up — things are just starting to get interesting.