Trump’s New York trial is over. What’s next with his other criminal cases?

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Former president Donald Trump speaks at a news conference from the lobby of Trump Tower the day after being found guilty on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records at Manhattan Criminal Court.

With one trial down, Donald Trump’s legal future remains a jumble of uncertainty.

Just months ago, it looked like Trump could be bouncing from courthouse to courthouse in the final months before the presidential election, with multiple criminal cases scheduled to go to trial.

Now, after a guilty verdict in the New York hush money case, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is a felon awaiting sentencing. But none of the three other criminal cases against him have trial dates – and it’s unclear when or if any of them will go before a jury.

The Supreme Court will make a pivotal decision this month or early next that could determine whether Trump’s D.C. election interference trial is scheduled before the November election. The pace of his federal classified documents trial in Florida is largely up to U.S. District Judge Aileen M. Cannon, who has moved slowly in handling pretrial motions, according to legal experts.

And Trump’s election interference case in Georgia will almost certainly push into 2025, as the trial judge waits for an appeals court to take up the question of whether Fulton County District Attorney Fani T. Willis should be allowed to remain on the case.

If Trump is elected president in November, that would greatly complicate at least the two federal trials, because he could appoint an attorney general who might dismiss the indictments against him. It’s also against Justice Department policy to prosecute a sitting president, and it’s unclear whether courts would allow a president to stand trial on state charges in Georgia.

And if any of the three remaining cases do make it to a jury, Trump will be sitting at the defense table under different circumstances than in New York. He is no longer a first-time offender. He will be a felon with a criminal history.

That means any new conviction carries a significantly greater risk of a prison sentence or a harsher punishment. And during a trial, it could generate fresh attacks from prosecutors on Trump’s credibility if he decided to take the witness stand.

“When calculating the federal sentencing guidelines, his criminal history will go into account,” said Tess Lopez, a sentencing consultant. “And it will drive up the range of the sentencing guidelines.”

Trump’s legal team has tried so far to delay the trials, a strategy that has been fairly effective.

In Florida – where Trump faces federal charges for improperly keeping classified documents after he left the White House – Cannon delayed the trial indefinitely. She has allowed pretrial motions to pile up and canceled her previously scheduled May trial date.

She plans to spend the summer holding hearings on defense attempts to whittle away at the indictment or dismiss it entirely, making a trial before November unlikely.

Legal experts say that the D.C. federal election interference case – where he is charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to obstruct an official proceeding and conspiring against people’s rights – is the most likely to go to trial before the election. That case is on pause until the Supreme Court weighs in on Trump’s claim that presidential immunity prevents his prosecution in the case.

A decision will come by the end of the court’s term, either this month or in early July. If the justices agree that Trump can be prosecuted for at least some acts alleged in the indictment, the D.C. case would resume its pretrial preparations.

The key issue may be what, if any, legal tests the high court sets for deciding whether any of the charged conduct in the case constitutes official acts that are exempt from prosecution. Leaving those questions to the trial judge could mean more time-consuming rounds of court rulings and appeals.

If the Supreme Court decides the matter itself, however, the D.C. trial could happen more quickly.

In Georgia – where Trump and 14 others face state racketeering charges related to their 2020 efforts to reverse the former president’s defeat in the state – the case is in a holding pattern.

Prosecutors and defendants are waiting on the timing of an appeal of a lower court judge’s decision to allow Willis to remain on the case despite a romantic relationship with an outside attorney she had hired to serve as lead prosecutor on the case. The Georgia Court of Appeals is not expected to take up the case before late summer, with a ruling not expected before late 2024 or early 2025.

The trial judge, Fulton Superior Court Judge Scott T. McAfee, is unlikely to schedule the start of a trial against Trump before the appellate court rules.

The Georgia case could also be affected by the Supreme Court’s immunity decision. If the justices decide outright that Trump has immunity, defense lawyers will almost certainly seek to apply that legal principle to the Georgia case as well, prompting a new round of filings and hearings over the summer.

If Trump does go to trial in any of these three cases, several criminal defense lawyers said, his New York conviction could influence whether he might testify in his own defense. A criminal defendant testifying at their own trial is rare and risky under any circumstances, but Trump has flirted with the idea and has said he wants to do it.

He did not testify in the New York trial.

If he were to testify in the pending trials, prosecutors in those cases might be allowed to introduce his conviction – and the behavior that led to it – as evidence that impeaches, or discredits, his testimony.

It’s not certain that the judges presiding over those cases would allow prosecutors to do so, but it’s a common legal maneuver, these lawyers said.

And when being sentenced after any potential future guilty verdict, there would be no way for Trump or any felon to avoid their criminal history, Lopez said.

Federal sentencing guidelines are based on a point system in which a judge assesses the person’s criminal background, personal characteristics and the crime they committed. The more points a person accrues, the higher the sentencing range becomes. Those points then act as a guide to the judge in handing down their sentence.

Lopez said Trump would probably receive one point for his New York state conviction if he is found guilty of a federal crime. If he goes to jail in the New York case for at least 60 days – which is unlikely, given Trump’s age and lack of prior criminal history – that’s another two points, according to Lopez.

The judge would also assess personal characteristics, which could include whether Trump has respected court orders and shown contrition. Judges typically adhere to these sentencing guidelines, but they have discretion and are not bound by them.

“They really focus on your criminal history and personal characteristics and what the circumstances of your crimes are – whether they are aggravating or mitigating,” Lopez said. “They really flesh that out when considering your sentence.”