Jun 10, 2024 - Politics & Policy

What to know about Trump's probation interview before New York sentencing

Former President Trump speaking in Phoenix on June 6.

Former President Trump speaking in Phoenix on June 6. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Former President Trump was set to be interviewed by New York probation officials on Monday after he was convicted last month in a state hush money case.

The big picture: The Republican presidential nominee was expected to attend the interview by video conference — a procedural step before his sentencing on July 11.

  • Trump was found guilty last month on all 34 counts in the state's falsified documents case against him.
  • He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, and his lawyers have said they intend to appeal the guilty verdict.

How it works: In New York, a convicted defendant must be interviewed by probation officials before sentencing to assess their criminal record, family history, community ties, educational background, physical health and other background information.

  • The officers will use information gathered in interviews with the defendant and other people as part of a larger pre-sentence investigation.
  • The state's Department of Probation will then submit the pre-sentence investigation to the presiding judge, which includes a sentencing recommendation.

The prosecution also makes a sentencing recommendation for the judge to consider.

  • In Trump's case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has yet to make a recommendation and has not said if his office will seek jail time for the former president.

Zoom in: Trump faces up to four years in prison for each felony conviction, though Judge Juan Merchan, who's overseeing the case, will have broad broad latitude over Trump's sentencing.

  • Legal experts have said it's unlikely Trump gets jail time because he's a first-time offender.
  • Instead of jail, Merchan could sentence Trump to probation or home detention.

Between the lines: Since Trump was a celebrity and is a former president, his probation interview likely won't illuminate substantial new information.

  • However, such interviews may also be used to gauge if defendants show signs of remorse or other feelings about the crime or crimes they were convicted of.
  • That information could be relevant to the probation officer or the judge during sentencing deliberations, though it generally depends on the official's opinion on how remorse should be assessed.

The big picture: Trump has repeatedly made false claims about the case and has publicly attacked Merchan on several occasions.

  • Merchan allowed Trump to be accompanied by his lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, during the interview who may blunt some of Trump's animosity toward the case before the officer. Defendants typically meet with probation officers alone.
  • Such interviews are not open to the public and pre-sentence reports typically remain confidential.

Go deeper: Trump suggests political enemies could face prosecution: "Very possible"

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