Trump could technically face maximum consecutive sentences totaling 136 years in prison in 34-count indictment

By 
 April 5, 2023

Former President Donald Trump was in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday for an arraignment hearing in which a criminal indictment against him was unsealed to reveal 34 felony counts of "falsifying business records in the first degree."

The maximum penalty for that crime is four years in prison -- thus, if convicted of all counts and ordered to serve the maximum penalty for each one, Trump could conceivably face a maximum sentence of 136 years in a New York prison, Breitbart reported.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that Trump would receive consecutive maximum sentences on all 34 counts -- if he's even convicted at all -- and it is also possible that he could avoid any time behind bars at all even if he is convicted of the charges against him.

Maximum sentence for class E felony is four years

Each of the 34 counts in the indictment is for an alleged violation of New York Penal Law Sec. 175.10 -- Falsifying business records in the first degree, which is a "class E felony."

That section of the law states: "A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof."

Per the New York State Unified Court System, out of the most serious classification of crimes, felonies, class E felonies are the lowest category thereof, and "The most you can be punished for a Class E felony is 4 years in jail."

Minimum and alternative sentences, to be served concurrently or consecutively

Maximum and minimum sentencing is further addressed in New York Penal Law Sec. 70.00(2)(e), which states, "For a class E felony, the term shall be fixed by the court, and shall not exceed four years," while Sec. 70.00(3) states, "The minimum period of imprisonment under an indeterminate sentence shall be at least one year."

However, an "alternative" sentence is available as an option for class E felony sentencing in Sec. 70.00(4), in that when the court, "having regard to the nature and circumstances of the crime and to the history and character of the defendant, is of the opinion that a sentence of imprisonment is necessary but that it would be unduly harsh to impose an indeterminate or determinate sentence, the court may impose a definite sentence of imprisonment and fix a term of one year or less."

That leaves only the question of whether sentences for multiple convictions should be served concurrently or consecutively, meaning at the same time or one after another, and the answer to that question can be found in Sec. 70.25(2): "When more than one sentence of imprisonment is imposed on a person for two or more offenses committed through a single act or omission, or through an act or omission which in itself constituted one of the offenses and also was a material element of the other, the sentences ... must run concurrently."

Given all of that, it becomes clear that Trump could technically be sentenced to maximum consecutive sentences totaling 136 years in prison, but more likely, given the victimless nature of the alleged "crimes" and lack of any prior offenses, would be sentenced to the minimum or alternative and be allowed to serve that time concurrently in four years or less, if he was even sentenced to any time behind bars at all.

Charges stem from "hush money" payment reimbursement

The New York Post reported that the criminal indictment against former President Trump was accompanied by a "Statement of Facts" from Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that was rather dubious in some instances with what were purported to be "facts" and true statements.

Nevertheless, it outlined how Trump had allegedly "repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election," with that other alleged "criminal conduct" left largely undefined.

That was most likely a reference to a not illegal "catch and kill" scheme to purchase from individuals but not publish their negative accounts about Trump, and specific to the above charges, the reimbursement of then-personal attorney Michael Cohen by Trump for the $130,000 in "hush money" that he paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 affair.

The former president, the first ever to be criminally indicted in American history, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, and will likely face trial early next year if the case isn't entirely dismissed by the judge prior to then.

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