Anti-Trump demonstrators protest outside the Manhattan District Attorney’s office on March 21, 2023 in New York City.
Leonardo Munoz | AFP | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump said he expects to be arrested by the Manhattan Borough’s Attorney’s Office, which is in the final stages of an investigation into a hush money payment to a porn star ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
But even if the grand jury hearing evidence in the inquest votes in favor of an indictment, it’s unclear when Trump will be arrested. Trump predicted he would be arrested on Tuesday, which was uneventful. Several news outlets reported Monday, citing law enforcement sources and people close to Trump’s legal team, that they don’t expect an arrest or a first appearance until next week.
Trump has denied wrongdoing and has accused prosecutor Alvin Bragg of leading a politically motivated indictment against him, a leading Republican presidential candidate. He has called on his supporters to protest the possible criminal charges.
If an indictment is filed, Trump will become the first former president in US history to be prosecuted – and in these unprecedented circumstances, Trump’s potential arrest could play out in a number of ways.
The process could go like this:
The grand jury was appointed in January to determine whether there was enough evidence in Bragg’s investigation to charge Trump with a crime. Trump was invited to appear before the grand jury earlier this month, a move seen as one of the final steps before the investigation ends. Trump declined to comment.
If the grand jury votes in favor of an indictment, it will initially be filed under seal, and that could remain so until Trump is brought before a judge. It could also be unsealed sooner by a judge overseeing the matter.
Trump’s lawyers would be notified of the charges and a handover date would be set. That timing is negotiable: it could be as little as a day or two after the indictment, or it could be longer.
“Typically, these things are coordinated fairly well with defense attorneys,” said Michael Bachner, a criminal defense attorney specializing in white collar crime and a former assistant district attorney in the Rackets Bureau of the Manhattan Attorney’s Office.
Given Trump’s recent calls for protests, prosecutors may have an incentive to give Trump a shorter surrender date, Bachner said.
Trump, who has spent much of his post-presidency time at his resort town of Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., will likely travel directly to the district attorney’s office in Lower Manhattan to turn himself in.
While Trump could technically have a way of challenging extradition to New York, that move is viewed as extremely unlikely.
“It’s not for Trump to run from state to state and hide himself,” wrote Jeremy Saland, a former Manhattan assistant district attorney. Escaping the charges “would blast his image of male masculinity worse than that of a horseless Vladimir Putin in a shirt,” Saland added.
Trump’s attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said last week that Trump would follow normal process if charged.
Upon arriving at the DA’s office, Trump was formally arrested, fingerprinted, mugshot and questioned by DA investigators for an arrest report. He is also asked for so-called pedigree information, which is the defendant’s personal information, including his name, address and date of birth.
After being booked, Trump is transported to a courtroom for his indictment.
Generally, a defendant is handcuffed when brought into the courthouse and is uncuffed when the trial begins.
However, some news outlets, citing sources familiar with the matter, have reported that Trump may be able to avoid an infamous “criminal walk” – having to walk down a court corridor in handcuffs as he faces his indictment.
Trump is being protected by US Secret Service agents who plan to stay with him throughout the process of his potential arrest in New York, NBC News reported Monday. Those agents will work to keep Trump out of the public eye while he is booked, a former agency official told NBC.
At the indictment, Trump will be briefed on the charges against him and asked to plead guilty or not guilty — not guilty being by far the more likely option — or to allow his attorney to plead on his behalf.
The lawyers and the judge may also have a discussion about presenting evidence in the case.
Since all possible criminal charges are non-violent in nature, Trump would most likely be released on his own, that is, without having to post bail.
“I don’t think bail is really an issue here,” said Lance Fletcher, a criminal defense attorney and former Manhattan district attorney.
If Trump is released without bail or other unforeseen restrictions, he could return to his Florida residence the same day.
“He’s not at risk of escaping,” Bachner said. “Everyone knows his face.”
Follow our live coverage of the New York grand jury’s indictment of former President Donald Trump.