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What does it mean that Trump has been indicted?

Grand jury indicts former President Trump
Grand jury votes to indict former President Trump in case linked to Stormy Daniels 05:02

Former President Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury on charges in connection with hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, the Manhattan District Attorney confirmed Thursday.

Trump is the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted on criminal charges.

At a basic level, an indictment consists of a formal written list of what a suspect is accused of. An indictment, though, is not a conviction.

In the case of Trump, the indictment means that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg can move forward with criminal charges. The exact charge or charges Trump faces were still unclear as of Thursday evening, however, and have not been made public.

When a suspect is indicted, it means that a grand jury has found sufficient evidence to charge the suspect with a crime, and that prosecutors can move forward with a case. 

Depending on the jurisdiction and the case, prosecutors are either required to employ a grand jury or choose to do so. Or, they sometimes have the option of bypassing a grand jury entirely and bringing charges directly. This can vary from state to state.

Prosecutors will sometimes choose to utilize a grand jury in order to protect themselves in a high-profile case, such as this one.

In some jurisdictions, prosecutors may also employ special grand juries for specific cases.

In 2016, just days just before Trump was elected president, Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 in the form of a wire transfer. Daniels said she was paid in exchange for remaining quiet about an alleged affair she had with Trump.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion and campaign-finance violations in connection with the payments made to Daniels and was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released in mid-2020 amid the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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