Donald Trump’s arraignment: How the day will unfold

Republican to be booked, fingerprinted and arraigned as part of the first criminal case against a former US president.

Donald Trump is to become the first former president of the United States to be charged in a criminal case.

The Republican is due to appear at a New York court on Tuesday after his indictment last week by a Manhattan grand jury.

The investigation centres on a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election to buy her silence about an alleged affair between her and Trump a decade earlier. The former president denies wrongdoing.

So what exactly is going to happen on Tuesday?

Trump, who faces an array of legal woes, is already in New York after he flew in from his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday.

Armed agents of the Secret Service are scheduled to accompany him to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, which is in the same building as the courthouse.

There, Trump is expected to be booked by investigators. Booking is the process in which a criminal suspect’s information is added to the system at a police station or jail after an arrest.

Trump, who has been positioning himself as the leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election, will be fingerprinted, but it is unclear if his mugshot will be taken as well. A mugshot is the photograph of a person’s face made for any official purpose, usually police records.

Even if Trump has his photograph taken, his mugshot may not be made public. Trump’s lawyers have raised the concern that a possible leak of the photo could taint Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.

Trump does not expect to be placed in handcuffs, his lawyer Joe Tacopina has previously said.

newspaper saying trump indicted
A newspaper reporting the criminal charges filed against Trump is shown outside Trump Tower, where the former US president stayed in his penthouse the night before his arraignment on April 4, 2023, in New York City [File: David ‘Dee’ Delgado/Reuters]

After booking, criminal suspects are usually held in cells near the courtroom before their arraignments, but Trump will not be one of them. US media reported that the former president will be taken through a back set of hallways and elevators to the courtroom. He will then come out into a public hallway to walk into the courtroom.

Trump is expected to be arraigned before Judge Juan Merchan and formally face the charges against him, which have yet to be unsealed. The arraignment is expected to take place at 2:15pm (18:15 GMT).

Tacopina said Trump will plead not guilty. He will seek to have the charges dismissed without going to trial, the lawyer said, adding that there is “zero” chance the former president will enter into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

“President Trump will not take a plea deal in this case,” Tacopina told NBC’s Today show. “It’s not going to happen. There’s no crime.”

After his arraignment, Trump will almost certainly be released on his own recognisance, meaning that he will be allowed to remain at liberty pending the trial. Conditions could be set on his travel, but this is highly unlikely.

Several media outlets requested the arraignment be broadcast, but Merchan ruled that out on Monday night. Instead, a limited number of photographers will be allowed to take pictures in the courtroom before the start of the proceedings.

Once the court hearing is over, US media reported that Trump is expected to retrace his steps back to the district attorney’s office, then to his motorcade outside. He is not supposed to walk out the front door of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse as suspects usually do because of security concerns.

Trump is expected to leave New York shortly after the arraignment for Florida and plans to make an address at Mar-a-Lago at 8:15 pm on Tuesday (0015 GMT Wednesday).

Legal experts said any potential trial is still at least more than a year away, raising the possibility that the former US president could face a jury in a Manhattan courtroom during or even after the 2024 presidential campaign as he seeks a return to the White House.

It is widely believed that Trump will pursue his White House campaign despite facing criminal charges.

Nothing in the US Constitution prevents someone from running for president while facing charges and even a conviction would not bar Trump from the nation’s highest office.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies