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Trump could be jailed at Rikers for contempt in the hush money case, experts say

Topline

The judge in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial in New York has threatened to send Trump to prison if he repeatedly violates a gag order against attacking witnesses and jurors, raising the prospect of a former president for the first time in history ends up behind bars. New York City’s infamous Rikers Island prison – New York City Mayor Eric Adams said officials are “prepared.”

Key facts

New York Judge Juan Merchan last week fined Trump $9,000 for nine violations of the silence order, following a series of Truth Social posts critical of potential witnesses and jurors, and threatened him with jail time for future violations, including his ruling said the fine “will not achieve the desired result.” ‘of preventing future violations of the gag order — Trump was fined another $1,000 for a violation on Monday.

Under New York state law, contempt of court is punishable by up to 30 days in jail per violation and/or a fine of not more than $1,000, depending on the court’s discretion.

It is unclear if, or when, Merchan would take the drastic step of imposing jail time — although he had faced the possibility of jail time for failing to pay the $9,000 fine last week, or for further alleged violations of the silence order that were heard last Thursday, according to Molly Kalmus, an adjunct professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (Trump paid the $9,000 fine).

While Trump could theoretically face months in prison for these violations if Merchan issues consecutive sentences, Laura Appleman, a criminal justice professor at Willamette University and a former public defender in New York, said she believes Trump would get at most 30 days “If he can’t stop himself.”

Should he receive a prison sentence, Trump would likely be transferred to Rikers Island, where he would be accompanied by Secret Service agents, Appleman and Kalmus said. Adding the island prison to the East River could separate Trump from the general population.

Kalmus said Rikers would be a likely outcome in that scenario because there is no jail in the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is being tried: the court’s cells are typically used on a short-term basis for people in transit from Rikers, and the former detention The center of the courthouse, known as the Tombs, was demolished last year to make way for a larger facility.

If Merchan decides to jail Trump for contempt of court, Trump would still be required to attend the trial, although Appleman questioned whether that prison sentence would be carried out immediately, noting: “You’re dating someone alone kick the lawsuit for contempt if he cannot behave in court and that is not what Trump would have violated.”

Forbes has reached out to Trump attorney Todd Blanche for comment.

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News Peg

When asked during a press conference on Tuesday about the possibility of Trump being jailed at Rikers, Adams responded told reporters that New York City Commissioner Lynelle Maginley-Liddie is “prepared to manage and address the situation,” noting that officials “should adapt.”

Crucial quote

“The court so far is treating him with the same process as any other defendant who comes before this court,” Kalmus said, adding that despite security concerns associated with security service protection, “the process and procedure have been the same as formerly. for every other person before this court.”

In return for

A criminal trial against a former president is unprecedented in US history, so it remains to be seen how the legal system would handle locking someone up. It is possible that Trump will be treated differently than a normal defendant, given his complex security needs and high profile.

Surprising fact

Last week, local, state and federal officials, including Secret Service agents, held a meeting to discuss how to handle a possible prison sentence for contempt and how to protect the former president if he is jailed, sources told The New York Times. the newspaper reported that the talks focused on the possibility of Trump being held in a courthouse cell.

Important background

Trump has been charged in four different federal and state charges since last year, raising the prospect that a former president could be imprisoned for the first time in American history. In New York, Trump was indicted on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, stemming from a payback to his former fixer Michael Cohen for a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election to cover up an alleged affair . Trump has denied the affair and pleaded not guilty to the charges, while his lawyers have argued that the refunds were legal and not campaign expenses. The former president has repeatedly criticized the case during the campaign and in Truth Social posts, baselessly arguing that New York prosecutors were in cahoots with the Biden administration to attack Trump ahead of the November election, with Trump labeled the case a ‘witch hunt’. He has also criticized witnesses like Cohen. In March, with the trial just weeks away, Merchan imposed a silence order that prohibited Trump from making public statements about court personnel, counsel and potential witnesses. Merchan extended the order to the family of court staff a month later, after Trump went after Merchan’s daughter online. Despite the order, Trump continued to post about potential witnesses, and prosecutors urged Merchan to fine Trump $3,000 for three violations, including messages directed at Cohen and Daniels, whom Trump called “sleaze bags.”

Chief critic

Trump, in turn, has heavily criticized the silence order, claiming it violates his right to free speech. Trump has argued that Cohen regularly attacks him on social media, so he should be allowed to respond. In another Truth Social post last week, Trump claimed that the “entire ‘process’ is rigged, and by TAKING AWAY my FREEDOM OF SPEECH, THIS HIGHLY CONFLICTED JUDGE is rigging the November election.”

Forbes rating

We estimate that Trump’s net worth is approximately $7.2 billion, making him the 373rd richest person in the world, thanks in large part to an extensive real estate portfolio of $1.1 billion, plus an estimated $410 million in cash as of March. The former president has also benefited from a windfall from Truth Social after parent company Trump Media and Technology Group’s Wall Street debut last month, although he faces some restrictions on selling his shares.

Read further

ForbesTrump fined $9,000 for violating hush-money case – judge warns jail time could followForbesProsecutors want Trump to be fined $3,000 for violating Judge Merchan’s silence order