A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former president Donald Trump on criminal charges, making him the first US head of state to face criminal charges in the history of America.

Donald Trump will be the first former US president to face criminal charges in connection with an inquiry into hush money payments made during his 2016 presidential campaign. 

Trump's surrender is expected in New York early next week. In a statement released Thursday evening, a spokesperson for the Manhattan district attorney's office said that they had contacted Trump's attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.'s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, at which point the specific charges will be unsealed, he added.

Trump, on the other hand, has strongly denied all the wrongdoing, calling it a “political persecution.”

It is not yet clear what offences Trump faces, but according to US media reports, there are more than two dozen charges linked to business fraud.

The Republicans, who were once Trump's opponents, have united to support him in face of charges, criticising the prosecutors.

In an interview on Thursday night, former Vice President and a prospective rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, Mike Pence, referred to the case against Trump as an "outrage" and argued that the case is "tenuous" and may only lead to a greater division within the country.

Meanwhile, Democrats have responded in a more restrained manner by stressing the importance of holding everyone accountable to the law, regardless of their status. 

What’s next? 

In New York, when a grand jury issues an indictment, the charges are kept confidential, and the indictment is submitted to the court. Following this, the district attorney normally informs the defendant of the charges and makes arrangements for the defendant to turn themselves in.

If he is taken into custody, Trump is more likely to go through standard arrest processing in New York. 

Once surrendered, the defendants undergo a confidential processing procedure involving having their photographs taken and fingerprints recorded before being escorted to a courtroom for their arraignment.

However, it's unclear if accommodations might be made for him or whether an exception will be made for the former president. 

His status adds an unprecedented dimension to the case and raises security concerns. Hence, he will be accompanied in every step from the moment he is taken into custody until his appearance before judges in the lower Manhattan Criminal Court.


During the arraignment, the judge overseeing the case will formally announce the charges against the ex-president, and Trump will respond with his plea.

Attorneys representing him emphasised their firm conviction that Trump will be released without bail, as the charges in the indictment are expected to only involve nonviolent felonies.

According to the laws in New York, prosecutors are not permitted to request the defendant to be detained on bail in such circumstances.

Meaning he will probably be released following the arraignment. 

Although judges in federal court sometimes impose travel restrictions on certain defendants, it's not typically done in New York state court, said Dan Horwitz, a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. 

The judge will then establish a timetable for submitting typical motions, and the parties involved will discuss the exchange of evidence collected by the prosecution during the investigation, as required by law.

Legal proceedings before trial 

Donald Trump is confronted with a formidable situation as he is charged by the district attorney’s office in such a case. Michael D. Cohen, Trump's Ex-personal attorney and “fixer”, is expected to testify that Trump instructed him to pay porn star Stormy Daniels and played a part in concealing the matter.

Horwitz, on the other hand, anticipated that the prosecutors would build a case that is substantiated by a significant amount of evidence instead of solely depending on Cohen's testimony.

For prosecutors to build a strong case, they have to operate within the boundaries of law. Meaning the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, would have to execute a complicated legal strategy, linking the concealment of hush-money payments, which may have breached state law, to a federal election.

According to specialists in election law, prosecutors in New York have not previously brought forward a case pertaining to election law concerning a federal campaign. Pursuing a case that has not been tried earlier is risky, especially when it involves a former president of the US, as there is a possibility that the court may dismiss or limit the case.

When it comes to the jury pool and any attempts to relocate the trial from Manhattan is not whether potential jurors are aware of the defendant’s identity or not but to determine whether the prospective jurors can be unbiased and impartial.

Picking a jury, in any case, is a challenge, stated Howartz, especially “in a case like this with a high-profile defendant.”

Trump's lawyers might challenge the fairness of the potential jurors in Manhattan by asserting that it could be challenging to locate unbiased jurors because New York is a liberal city, implying that many potential jurors might have political biases.

In addition, Trump's legal representatives could petition for a bench trial, which is conducted solely by the judge without a jury. Unlike federal court, where both the prosecution and defence must agree to a bench trial, in state court, only the defence can make this request. 

Bench trials are generally utilised in cases involving intricate legal and factual questions and cases where the defence's argument may be more technical.

READ MORE: 'Not a crime or affair': Trump likens probe into him to 'Stalinist Russia'

Source: TRTWorld and agencies