Here's The Maximum Sentence Donald Trump Could Face For His Crimes

Donald Trump was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records on May 30, 2024 in New York, making him the first U.S. president to be convicted of felony crimes. His sentencing is set for July 11, and he's going to lose some rights as a convicted felon depending on the time he receives. Trump faces a fine of up to $5,000 per felony charge and up to four years in prison for each. In theory, Trump could receive 136 years in prison if the judge decides to impose the sentences consecutively, but even in this scenario New York law states that he can't be sentenced to more than 20 years.

Falsifying business records is a "Class E" felony, the lowest tier. "The aggregate maximum term of consecutive sentences imposed for two or more crimes, other than two or more crimes that include a class A felony, committed prior to the time the person was imprisoned under any of such sentences shall, if it exceeds 20 years, be deemed to be 20 years," states New York Penal Law § 70.02. An exception is if one of the felonies is class B (Trump hasn't been charged with one), which would cap the maximum at 30 years.

Some say prison is unlikely

Research has suggested that white-collar crimes are sentenced less harshly than blue-collar offenses, and the public too views them more favorably. Trump's case is unprecedented, being that he's a former president running for office again, so perhaps his sentence will also go against the grain. "Typically this is not the kind of case where you would expect a first-time white-collar offender to receive a sentence of incarceration," New York defense lawyer Andrew Weinstein told CTV News. "But everything about Trump is different, so I don't think you can look historically at other sentences because he's just a different animal."

That said, given that he's a first-time offender, some legal experts don't think it's likely he will receive any prison time. "I'd be very surprised if there's any sentence of incarceration at all," NBC News analyst and former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg. "Of course, he did spend a good bit of time insulting the judge who has the authority to incarcerate him."

Others believe he'll end up behind bars

Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over the case and will hand Donald Trump his sentence, isn't known for his lenience. He previously threatened to jail Trump for violating a gag order, and he apparently doesn't look kinder on white-collar crimes. In fact, Ron Kuby, a veteran New York criminal defense lawyer, said the opposite is true. "Judge Merchan is known for being a harsh sentencer when it comes to white-collar crimes committed by people who have wealth and privilege and power," he said, per the i. "It is substantially likely Judge Merchan will sentence Trump to jail or prison time."

Merchan has 16 years of experience as a judge, and the former prosecutor used to work as an internal auditor in real estate, the industry that earned Trump his billions. Jose A. Fanjul, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney, prosecuted a white-collar fraud trial in Merchan's court and spoke highly of the judge's work ethic. "He is someone who reads every word on every page of every filing and every footnote — and then the cases that you cite to him," Fanjul told The New York Times. "His fidelity to the law and to getting it right lends to him this sort of moral purpose of what he's doing that makes it a joy to practice in front of him." Time will tell whether he looks mercifully upon Trump.