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Trump Trial: Charges & Conviction Easily Explained

Donald Trump was convicted of 34 counts of falsifying business records, Penal Law 175.10. This charge could result in up to four years in prison (per count). Other sentences like probation, community service, and fines are also possible. 


A person is guilty of this charge if the burden of proof has been met that financial records have been tampered with “an intent to defraud that includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof, that person: makes or causes a false entry in business records of an enterprise.” You can read the charges here.


The prosecution needed to prove intent to commit another crime by falsifying business records to convict. 


In the public records, the only charges brought to the court were falsifying business records. It’s possible the evidence for the implied crime of intent may be weaker and was not brought to the court to be tried, as it could have negatively impacted the business record charges. Separately, the prosecution may want to try those charges later, with lower stakes in producing a conviction. 


The law the prosecution successfully implied intent to violate was the Federal Election Campaign Act. This Act limits the amounts received by candidates running for federal offices and imposes a standard of record-keeping for incoming and outgoing streams of money attached to these campaigns. 


Ultimately, paying hush money to Stormy Daniels showcased an intent to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act because of a technicality. This payment could have been legal if done correctly by the law. Since an individual can fund their campaign without a limit, a person (in this case, Donald Trump) could have used his money through the campaign to pay off Daniels. However, since the burden of quality record keeping falls on managing the campaign books, the transactions must be accurately recorded. 


The payments to Daniels were recorded as “legal expenses,” but under the law, since they were being paid to help Trump's candidacy, they should have been recorded as "campaign expenses.” Therefore, proving, at the very least, an intent to defraud and proof of falsifying records. 

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