Aug 16, 2023, 5:24pm EDT
politicsNorth America

A handy guide on Trump’s Georgia arrest, arraignment, and next steps

Donald Trump and Fani Willis.
REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein / REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

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The News

Former President Donald Trump has until next Friday to surrender to Georgia authorities after he and 18 other alleged co-conspirators were hit with a sweeping racketeering indictment surrounding efforts to overturn the 2020 election.

Here’s what’s expected to happen next in the case — with a caveat that it is subject to change, given that a former U.S. president has never been tried in Georgia.

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  • Defendants surrender: Before noon on Friday, Aug. 25, Trump and the other defendants will have to go to the Fulton County Jail and formally turn themselves in. The Fulton sheriff said in a statement that the jail is open 24/7. He’s previously said that Trump would likely be booked like any other detainee, which would include having his mugshot taken. The detainees would likely post bail and be allowed to leave the jail shortly after being booked. (The jail is currently under federal investigation over poor conditions within the facility.)
  • Arraignment: At the arraignments, the charges will formally be read out and the defendants will be able to enter a plea — in this case, Trump and the others will almost certainly plead not guilty. The defendants don’t always have to attend, and there’s a chance the proceedings could happen virtually. Arraignment dates haven’t been set, but District Attorney Fani Willis wants them to happen the week of Sept. 5.
  • Federal transfer? Defendants have 30 days after their arraignment to request to move their case to federal court, if they can argue that the charges are related to their actions as a federal government official. Former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has already made this request, with Trump and former Assistant Attorney Jeffrey Clark expected to follow suit. If they’re successful, it’s unclear whether the rest of the defendants in the case will move to federal court as well. Regardless, it will delay the start of any trial.
  • Motions on motions: The judge will likely set a timeline for when pre-trial motions can be entered and heard. Expect a lot in this case. Willis wants the trial to begin March 4, 2024, but legal experts believe that’ll be a difficult task.