How big are Donald Trump's legal problems?

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Donald Trump has been criminally indicted four times, and will have a series of trials to attend in 2024 as he runs again for the White House.

Here's a guide to the four cases and what they could mean for the former president and current frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination.

What are the charges in Georgia 2020 election investigation?

This is the most recent indictment, the one that saw the first ever mugshot of a former US president after Donald Trump turned himself in at the Fulton County Jail on 24 August. The charges for Mr Trump - listed now as inmate no. P01135809 on Fulton County Jail records - were unsealed last month.

Mr Trump and 18 others are named in a 41-count indictment for alleged attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state.

The investigation was sparked in part by a leaked phone call in which the former president asked Georgia's top election official to "find 11,780 votes".

Mr Trump was hit with 13 criminal counts including an alleged violation of Georgia's Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico).

His other charges include solicitation of violation of oath by a public officer, conspiring to commit impersonating a public officer, conspiring to commit forgery, conspiring to commit false statements, and writing and conspiring to file false documents.

What are the potential penalties?

The racketeering charge, which is mostly used in organised crime cases, carries a maximum 20-year jail sentence.

Georgia prosecutor Fani Willis would need to prove that there was a pattern of corruption from Mr Trump and his allies aimed at overturning the election result in order to bring a conviction.

As for making false statements, that carries a penalty of between one to five years in prison or a fine.

And a person convicted of first-degree criminal solicitation to commit election fraud will face between one to three years in jail.

What will his defence be?

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied wrongdoing in the case and has entered a plea of not guilty.

He has defended the phone call in question as "perfect" and accused Ms Willis of launching a politically motivated inquiry.

There is no confirmed date for the trial yet.

What are the charges in 2020 election investigation?

Donald Trump has been criminally charged in a separate federal investigation into efforts to overturn the result of the 2020 presidential election.

The 45-page indictment contains four counts: conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding, and conspiracy against rights.

They stem from the former president's actions in the wake of the 2020 election, including around the 6 January Capitol riot, which occurred while Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden's victory.

Media caption,

Watch the moment Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building

What are the potential penalties?

Penalties for these charges include:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the US is punishable by a fine or up to five years in prison
  • Obstructing an official proceeding is punishable by a fine or up to 20 years in prison
  • Conspiracy against rights is punishable by a fine or not more than 10 years in prison, or both

But there are logistical, security and political questions around whether Mr Trump would serve time even if charged and convicted.

What will his defence be?

Mr Trump was formally charged in court in Washington DC on 3 August. A tentative trial date is scheduled for 4 March 2024.

He argues that the charges are an attempt to prevent him from winning the 2024 presidential election. Before leaving Washington after his arraignment hearing, he told journalists the case "is a persecution of a political opponent".

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied responsibility for the riot on 6 January 2021.

His legal team is also likely to argue that the former president is not directly responsible for the violence that unfolded that day because he told supporters to march "peacefully" on the Capitol and is protected by First Amendment free speech rights.

What are the charges in classified documents case?

Mr Trump is facing 40 criminal charges over his alleged mishandling of classified material after he left the White House.

Thousands of documents were seized in an FBI search at his Florida estate Mar-a-Lago last year, including about 100 that were marked as classified.

The charges are related to both his handling of the documents and his alleged efforts to obstruct the FBI's attempts to retrieve them.

The majority of the counts, are for the wilful retention of national defence information, which falls under the Espionage Act.

There are then eight individual counts which include conspiracy to obstruct justice, withholding a document or record and making false statements.

Will Donald Trump go to jail?

These charges could - in theory - lead to substantial prison time if Mr Trump is convicted.

But the logistics, security and politics of jailing a former president mean a conventional prison sentence is seen as unlikely by many experts.

Looking at the letter of the law, the counts under the Espionage Act, for example, each carry a maximum sentence of 10 years.

Other counts, related to conspiracy and withholding or concealing documents, each carry maximum sentences of 20 years.

Counts relating to a scheme to conceal, and false statements and representations carry sentences of five years each.

But while there is no doubt the charges are serious, many questions remain unanswered about the potential penalties should he be convicted.

What will his defence be?

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and the trial is set to begin on 20 May 2024.

The former president has offered shifting defences for the material found at his property, mostly arguing that he declassified it. No evidence has been provided that this was possible or is true.

Media caption,

Trump supporters outside court: 'They're afraid of him'

His lawyers may argue in court that Mr Trump was unfairly targeted and that other politicians, namely Hillary Clinton, Mike Pence and current President Joe Biden, were never charged for their handling of classified documents.

But experts say the former president's case is different in a number of ways. For one, other politicians were willing to return whatever documents they had, while prosecutors allege Mr Trump resisted.

What are the charges in New York hush money case?

Mr Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.

The charges stem from a hush-money payment made before the 2016 election to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, who says she had an adulterous affair with Mr Trump.

While such a payment is not illegal, spending money to help a presidential campaign but not disclosing it violates federal campaign finance law.

What are the potential penalties?

Each of the charges carries a maximum of four years in prison, although a judge could sentence Mr Trump to probation if he is convicted.

Legal experts have told BBC News they think it is unlikely Mr Trump will be jailed if convicted in this case and a fine is the more likely outcome.

What will his defence be?

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty and is due to stand trial in the case on 25 March 2024.

He denies ever having sexual relations with Ms Daniels and says the payment was made to protect his family from false allegations, not to sway the election.

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