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Will Trump go to prison if convicted in hush money trial?

(NEXSTAR) – Former President Donald Trump’s fate was turned over to the jury’s hands Wednesday as he faces 34 felony counts in a New York courtroom.

The 34 charges stem from allegations he buried stories of extramarital affairs that arose during his first White House campaign. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen testified he paid porn actor Stormy Daniels in exchange for not going public with her claim about a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Prosecutors say the reimbursements were falsely logged as “legal expenses” to hide the true nature of the transactions, but the former president’s defense team says the payment wasn’t made at Trump’s request. Trump denies all wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty on all counts.

The felony charges Trump is facing for falsifying business records each carry with them a potential prison sentence of four years.

While a prison sentence is possible, it is not required. The jury will decide on guilty or not guilty verdicts, but it’s Judge Juan Merchan who will decide on what punishment is appropriate in the sentencing phase of the trial. Sentencing occurs after a verdict is reached.

While prison time isn’t out of the question, it’s far from a guarantee, legal analysts say. At 77 years old, the former president’s age may be a factor in deciding on prison time, the Washington Post reports. He would also be a first-time offender, making a prison sentence less likely. Judge Merchan will also consider other factors, such as if Trump poses a danger to the community or if letting him walk free would send a bad message to others tempted to commit the same crimes.

The jury could also decide Trump is guilty on some charges but not guilty on others. That would reduce the overall maximum sentence. However, even if he were sentenced to multiple prison terms on multiple guilty verdicts, Trump would likely serve the terms concurrently, Politico reports.

Judge Merchan could decide to issue a lighter sentence, such as probation or “conditional discharge,” which means he would be set free on certain conditions set by the judge.

A guilty verdict, if it comes, would not bar Trump from continuing his bid for presidency in the 2024 election.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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