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Donald Trump

What is an indictment? What the legal proceeding means and how it works in the US

In March,聽Donald Trump聽became the聽first former 91影视 president to face criminal charges聽after a New York聽grand jury聽voted to indict him in connection with hush money payments.

In June, Trump was indicted once again over his alleged mishandling of classified documents. On Aug. 1, Trump was indicted聽a third time on accusations that he tried to steal the 2020 presidential election from President Joe Biden.

Now, the former president is facing a fourth indictment. On Monday, Trump was indicted by a Georgia grand jury on conspiracy charges of trying to steal Georgia's electoral votes from Biden after the 2020 election.

But what does this mean? What is an indictment, and how does this impact Trump's run for president? Here鈥檚 what you need to know.

What is an indictment?

An indictment is a formal charging document used when it鈥檚 believed a person has committed a crime. It contains information on the someone, according to the 91影视 Justice Department.

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An indictment means a grand jury has decided there鈥檚 "more likely than not" enough evidence 鈥 based on testimony 鈥 to move forward with charging a person, according to David Weinstein, a former federal and state prosecutor.

A grand jury does not decide whether someone is guilty or not. Its role is to decide whether prosecutors have given sufficient evidence to formally charge someone. States, generally, only require grand jury indictments for prosecution of serious crimes.

Before a case can move forward in a court, an indictment should be filed, Weinstein said.

In a federal court, all felony cases proceed via indictment.

An arraignment occurs after someone is indicted. An聽arraignment聽is when formal charges against the accused are read by the judge. This proceeding is the first time the accused appears before聽a judge and is told about the specific charges they are facing.聽

What was Trump indicted for?

Trump faces four indictments:

First indictment

Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury on March 30.

He is accused of falsifying business records about hush-money payments to two women, including adult film actress and director Stormy Daniels, who tried to sell her story about an聽alleged affair聽with Trump. Prosecutors said a $130,000 payment was made to keep Daniels' story from going public during Trump's 2016 presidential run.

Trump faces 34 felony counts in this indictment. He was arraigned on April 4, and he plead not guilty. This trial is set for March 25, 2024, in New York.

Second indictment

Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Florida on June 8.

He is accused of聽mishandling classified documents聽seized at Mar-a-Lago. Charges against Trump also include obstructing justice, making false statements, and trying to "alter, destroy, mutilate, or conceal evidence," by asking a Mar-a-Lago staffer to delete video footage at the estate.

Trump faces 40 felony counts in this indictment. He was arraigned on June 13. He plead not guilty. This trial is set for May 20, 2024 in Fort Pierce, Florida.

Third indictment

Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury for the District of Columbia on August 1.

He is accused of conspiring to steal the 2020 election聽from President聽Joe Biden, ahead of聽the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021. He faces four felony counts, including:

  • Conspiracy to defraud the United States.
  • Conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding.
  • Obstruction of and attempt to obstruct an official proceeding.
  • Conspiracy against rights.

He was arraigned on August 3. He plead not guilty.

Fourth indictment

Trump was indicted by a Georgia grand jury on August 14.

He, along with several others, are accused of trying to unlawfully discard President Joe Biden鈥檚 win in Georgia聽during the 2020 presidential election. The indictment is made up of 41 charges against 19 defendants,聽from Trump to his former attorney Rudy Giuliani and former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. 聽

Can Trump still run for president if he鈥檚 indicted?

Yes, Trump can run for president and continue his 2024 campaign.

"Legally speaking, there is nothing to bar a former president from being indicted for a state crime, running for office 鈥 even convicted," said Jessica Levinson, founding director of Loyola Law School's Public Service Institute. "It really just becomes an issue of, practically, how could you run the country behind bars, if ever came to something like that?"

According to the , there are only three requirements for someone to serve as president:聽

  • Must be at least 35 years old
  • Be a natural-born citizen
  • Must be a resident of the 91影视 for at least 14 years.

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91影视 is exploring the questions you and others ask every day. From "What is an arraignment?"聽to "What is a grand jury?" to "Who is running for president in 2024?" we're striving to find answers to the most common questions you ask.

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