According To One Legal Expert, Donald Trump Isn't A Convicted Felon - Yet

It seems that everyone, from regular folks to political figures, has commented on Donald Trump's conviction on 34 felony charges in a Manhattan, New York, court. The charges, which are in conjunction with the former president's alleged attempts to cover up a long-ago affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, have people questioning whether Trump can still run for president in 2024 despite being found guilty. They also have people referring to the former host of "The Apprentice" as a convicted felon.

While it is true that Trump is the first current or former U.S. president to be criminally convicted, calling him a "convicted felon" at this point in time may be a bit of a misnomer — at least, according to one legal expert. In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, CNBC anchor Brian Sullivan explained the importance of not using that term when referring to Trump ahead of his scheduled sentencing. "FYI: due to odd quirk in the law, Trump is not a 'convicted felon' until sentencing, which is July 11th. You will hear that term a lot but it's legally inaccurate until July 11th," he wrote.

So far, a number of major publications have used such language in their stories about the Trump verdict, hence Sullivan's post to clarify the semantics behind the words "convicted felon." But what's in it for Trump and his supporters if he indeed becomes one?

Trump can still run -- and serve -- as president as a convicted felon

As explained by The New York Times, Donald Trump's sentencing on July 11, 2024, could simply see him get probation, or, as a worst-case scenario, have him serving up to four years in prison. But there are no constitutional limitations that would prevent the presumptive Republican nominee from running for president in the November 2024 election, or even stop him from being sworn in while doing time in the slammer. Furthermore, it isn't too common for first-time offenders like Trump to get prison time in New York for white-collar crimes. That means regardless of whether he actually becomes a true convicted felon or not, Trump can theoretically enjoy a second term as president.

Even if Trump and his legal team successfully appeal his conviction, the former president has a few other legal issues that are still pending. These include two cases of alleged election interference, including a federal one accusing him of conspiring to usurp Joe Biden's presidency in the lead-up to the January 2021 Capitol attack, and another federal case where he purportedly stored hundreds of classified documents at strange places within his Mar-a-Lago residence after his term as president ended.

Trump's conviction might not significantly affect his odds of winning the election

If survey results are any indication, Donald Trump's guilty verdict might not matter too much in the grand scheme of things for his loyal supporters. Emerson College's May 2024 poll, which was published almost a week before the former president's conviction, shows Trump (46%) slightly ahead of Democratic incumbent Joe Biden (44%), with 53% of respondents maintaining that a guilty verdict in the Manhattan trial wouldn't influence their decision to vote for Trump. While 25% of voters said that this would make them less likely to support the presumptive Republican nominee in the November election, 23% argued that Trump being found guilty would actually push them to vote for him.

Another poll from ABC News/Ipsos showed even more overwhelming support for Trump if convicted in New York — 80% said they would still back the former president, while only 4% admitted they would no longer support him. 16% of respondents said they would "reconsider" their support of Trump, but it's important to note that this does not necessarily mean they will definitely vote for someone else in November.

All told, anything can happen between now and July 11, but even if Donald Trump becomes a convicted felon in its actual definition, it seems he can still count on the support of his loyal followers.