Does New York have sentencing guidelines? If so, what do they say about the felony falsification of business records, and the associated conspiracy, that Donald Trump has been charged with?

1 Answer 1


New York State's sentencing laws do not have sentencing guidelines in the sense that the federal courts do.

Donald Trump is an individual with no prior felony convictions who is charged with Class E felonies. The statutory sentencing range for these offenses under New York Penal Law Section 70.02(1)(d) is a determinate sentence of 1.5 to 4 years. Under some circumstances, alternative sentencing (like probation) might be authorized. Judges have limited authority to impose sentences outside this range if special conditions are met (usually allowing more lenient sentences).

Essentially the whole ballgame, however, is the discretion of the sentencing judge within the normal range, and the question of whether the sentences of conviction would be served concurrently or consecutively.

The sentencing hearing would happen only after a jury enters its verdict on guilt or innocence, and only in the event that there was a conviction on at least one count of the indictment. It would be an evidentiary hearing at which evidence regarding an appropriate sentence would be presented by the prosecution and the defense.

I am not familiar enough with the facts of the complaint and the applicable New York State Penal Law provisions to know how the issue of consecutive v. concurrent sentences would be resolved.

  • What is a determinate sentence? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 21:54
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    @Seekinganswers A determinate sentence means that judge says, for example, "you are hereby sentenced to 33 months in prison." This is in contrast to an indeterminate sentence, in which a judge would say, for example, "you are sentenced to 12 to 60 months in prison" with a parole board deciding whether to release the convicted defendant at 12 months and periodically thereafter. But, if the defendant isn't released sooner by the parole board, the convicted defendant is freed after 60 months. New York State has mostly determinate sentences, but some states mostly use indeterminate sentences.
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 23:49
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    That's one thing I hate about Law.SE. A good (meaning well researched and maximally correct) answer is often "well, it can really be anything within <this broad range> depending on how the judge sneezes". For someone with STEM and software engineering background, this is... not good.
    – user0306
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 19:01
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    @DVK Law is not physics. It has lots of uncertainty and you can't follow long trains of logical reasoning and expect to get the right result. Comes with the territory I'm afraid (FWIW, I was a mathematics major myself as an undergraduate, so I get it.)
    – ohwilleke
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 20:34
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    @DVK that's because law isn't deterministic. You and me could both violate the very same law by doing an act, but because the circumstances are ever so slightly different or one of us has a much better lawyer, one of us might go scott free and the other gets maximum sentence. Even if you take the same layers, the exact same crimes and just swap juries, you might gain a much different sentence from running exactly the same trial.
    – Trish
    Commented Nov 8, 2023 at 0:37

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