Donald Trump Could Face Month in Prison if He Violates Gag Order

Donald Trump Could Face Month in Prison if He Violates Gag Order

Donald Trump could face a month in prison if he continues to violate a gag order in the Stormy Daniels hush money case in New York.

Several legal experts told Newsweek that Trump could face jail time if he continues to defy Judge Juan Merchan’s expanded gag order, which prohibits the former president from criticizing Merchan’s family or family members of people connected with the case.

Merchan expanded the week-old gag order Monday evening to include prohibitions on Trump making statements about Merchan’s family and that of the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who requested the move on March 29.

It came after Trump posted twice on social media denouncing the judge’s daughter, Loren Merchan, who was the president and partner of Authentic Campaigns, a progressive political consulting firm, according to a June 2022 wedding announcement in Politico.

Even after Merchan’s expanded gag order on Monday, Trump continued to post videos about Loren Merchan.

Ron Filipkowski, a former prosecutor and the editor-in-chief of MeidasTouch, said on social media Tuesday that Trump had violated the order by sharing a clip from Fox News on Truth Social.

“Trump violates his gag order this morning by posting a clip…repeating the same fake story about a fake social media account supposedly from the judge’s daughter that led to the gag order being extended,” Filipkowski wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law, told Newsweek that Trump would first be entitled to trial if Judge Merchan believes he has committed criminal contempt of court.

“If Trump is charged with criminal contempt for violating the gag order, he is entitled to a trial on that charge. Contempts outside the courtroom, which that would be, cannot be punished summarily by the trial judge. The maximum imprisonment if convicted is 30 days. The maximum fine is $1000,” Gillers said.

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s attorney via email for comment.

New York prosecutors charged Trump with 34 felonies, accusing him of falsifying business records and concealing hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of his criminal charges and insists that his legal difficulties, which include a number of recent civil judgments, are part of a coordinated effort by Democrats to block the presumptive Republican presidential nominee from returning to the White House.

trump wisconsin
Donald Trump speaks at a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, on April 2. Trump was placed under an expanded gag order in his Stormy Daniels hush money case.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Greg Germain, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law, told Newsweek that, apart from making comments outside of court, Trump could face “direct criminal contempt” proceedings while appearing in person at the Daniels trial.

Germain said direct criminal contempt is committed in court in front of the judge, “and can be punished by the judge immediately from the bench.”

“If Trump did not control himself in court, for example, if he insulted the judge in court, the judge could hold him in direct contempt and put him in jail for a few days or something like that.”

Germain added that, in addition to direct and indirect criminal contempt of court, Trump could also face civil contempt proceedings.

“Civil contempt is to force future compliance with an order. If Trump was ordered to do something, like turn over his passport or testify, and refused, he could be put in jail until he agreed to comply,” he said.

“Maybe the judge could ask him if he will abide by the order in the future, and if he said no he could be put in jail until he agreed, but the violation of a gag order would usually be to punish him and thus criminal contempt.”