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The New York Times writes:

Donald J. Trump is preparing to walk into a Manhattan courtroom as both a defendant and a candidate, making final plans for his arrest on Tuesday [...].

Why would he be arrested? Is there a danger of flight? That seems implausible, given that he has arranged his appearance in front of the court out of his own volition, and because of his commercial, family and real estate ties to the country, and his plans to run for president again.

Is there a danger of destroying evidence? In all reality, that would have happened by now, and most relevant searches have probably been conducted already.

What other reasons would be there for an arrest?

As a clarification: If I'm not mistaken, in Germany an indictment would simply be delivered by special registered mail, unless one of the above-mentioned dangers was present.

In the U.S., a simple delivery of an indictment can take on an appearance which I can only perceive as unnecessarily disparaging. A defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. To me this principle implies that defendants should be treated with respect like any other citizen. Putting them in humiliating situations, let alone using force like restraining them with handcuffs like in the case of Mr. Weisselberg contradicts this principle, unless there is reason to believe they would flee or otherwise obstruct the trial.

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  • 30
    To clarify, Trump isn't being "arrested" in the sense of being pulled out of his house, thrown in a paddywagon and driven to jail. This "arrest" will likely consist of nothing more than him showing up at the court, receiving his warrant, being entered into a criminal-justice database, and then sitting in a room waiting for the judge to call his case. You may get better answers if you elaborate on your question: Is there a specific part of that process that seems unjustifiable here?
    – bdb484
    Apr 3, 2023 at 15:49
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    Different legal systems may value different things in different priorities, and several common law systems take public appearance before a judge as well as the right to confront your accusers quite seriously (for better or worse). On the other hand, several civil law systems protects the privacy interests of the accused and other participants (incl. victims) of the justice system, but prosecutors can issue penal orders without approval from a judge and the convicted is burdened with procedural costs when deciding whether to pursue judicial recourses.
    – xngtng
    Apr 4, 2023 at 12:11
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    The DA specifically said that he would not be handcuffed. But he'll be fingerprinted and a DNA sample taken. That's hard to do with registered mail.
    – Barmar
    Apr 4, 2023 at 15:23
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    @Barmar It is also entirely unnecessary. It is also still an arrest, handcuffs or not. Apr 4, 2023 at 15:50
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    I think they may be trying to make a point of treating him like any other "perp" -- the whole "no one is above the law" thing.
    – Barmar
    Apr 4, 2023 at 15:55

2 Answers 2

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An accused would be arrested for the purposes of arraignment ("even a scheduled arrest is still an arrest"). That does not entail that the accused would be held in custody pending or during trial. Many commenters are of the view that Mr. Trump would be released under his own recognizance without bail.

Reference: AP News.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Law Meta, or in Law Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Dale M
    Apr 4, 2023 at 6:11
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New York Criminal Procedure Law, section 210.10, Requirement of and methods of securing defendant's appearance for arraignment upon indictment, subsection 3 (emphasis added):

  1. If the defendant has not previously been held by a local criminal court for the action of the grand jury and the filing of the indictment constituted the commencement of the criminal action, the superior court must order the indictment to be filed as a sealed instrument until the defendant is produced or appears for arraignment, and must issue a superior court warrant of arrest. Upon the request of the district attorney, in lieu of a superior court warrant of arrest, the court may issue a summons if it is satisfied that the defendant will respond thereto. Upon the request of the district attorney, in lieu of a warrant of arrest or summons, the court may instead authorize the district attorney to direct the defendant to appear for arraignment on a designated date if it is satisfied that the defendant will so appear. A superior court warrant of arrest is executable anywhere in the state. Such warrant may be addressed to any police officer whose geographical area of employment embraces either the place where the offense charged was allegedly committed or the locality of the court by which the warrant is issued. It must be executed in the same manner as an ordinary warrant of arrest, as provided in section 120.80, and following the arrest the executing police officer must without unnecessary delay perform all recording, fingerprinting, photographing and other preliminary police duties required in the particular case, and bring the defendant before the superior court. If such superior court is not available, the executing police officer may bring the defendant to the local correctional facility of the county in which such superior court sits, to be detained there until not later than the commencement of the next session of such court occurring on the next business day.

So, the district attorney can ask the court not to issue a warrant, but the court isn't obliged to comply. In fact the court is obliged not to comply if it concludes that the defendant may not appear voluntarily or in response to a summons.

My guess is that the district attorney did not make the necessary request. However, as noted in the AP article linked in Jen's answer, "Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it had contacted Trump’s lawyer to coordinate his surrender and arraignment," so it's entirely possible that the third option is in play, in which case Trump won't necessarily be arrested.

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  • IIUC, a summons would not lead to an arrest? Because Trump gave no indication that he would evade the court, the question is perhaps just why the district attorney didn't choose the mildest legal instrument available. Apr 4, 2023 at 9:36
  • All the reports said that he would be fingerprinted and a DNA sample taken, and there has been speculation about a mug shot. Is that independent of the arrest?
    – Barmar
    Apr 4, 2023 at 15:21
  • @barmar Apparently, no mug shot for fears of it leaking, which would expose the department to legal and publicity risks. Also, allegedly the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building is not equipped to take mug shots, although in all reality this is likely a pretext. But there is no shortage of images of Trump, so mug shots would not be needed for identification or a manhunt. Apr 4, 2023 at 16:05
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    @Peter-ReinstateMonica Yeah, Colbert last night speculated on which of his many famous poor pictures would be best to use. He settled on a shot of him playing tennis that showed off his bug butt.
    – Barmar
    Apr 4, 2023 at 16:09
  • @Peter-ReinstateMonica the options are warrant, summons, or just making an appointment. I believe you're right that only the first implies arrest (at least before the arraignment; there would have to be an arrest at some point if there's a conviction, but I don't know when that would be). I don't know what option is actually in play. The press using the word "arrest" doesn't imply that they know, either; they could also be making assumptions since s warrant is the default course of action.
    – phoog
    Apr 5, 2023 at 5:24

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