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North Texas legal experts react to arraignment of former President Donald Trump

North Texas legal experts react to arraignment of former President Donald Trump
North Texas legal experts react to arraignment of former President Donald Trump 02:23

DALLAS ( – Former President Donald Trump is now the first former or sitting president to be criminally charged. 

Today, he plead not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, details an alleged years-long scheme to hide damaging information and unlawful activity from voters before the 2016 presidential election. 

Trump appeared somber heading into a Manhattan courtroom. 

"So he's not under arrest in the way people expect, in handcuffs and doing a perp walk, but he had surrendered himself the court," said Benson Varghese, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth. 

TV cameras weren't allowed inside the hour-long hearing. 

It was Trump's first chance to hear all the charges against him. He's accused of orchestrating a scheme to buy and bury negative information about him in order to influence the election.

The indictment details three payments made by Trump applies to conceal damaging stories, including one to adult film star and former North Texas resident Stormy Daniels. 

Attorneys will likely file various pre-trial motions before the next in-person hearing, which is scheduled for Dec. 4. 

"Motions to dismiss, motions to change venue – there's a number that could pop up," said Eric Cedillo, an attorney and law professor at SMU. "They may maintain a new judge is needed because he's heard a number of cases against The Trump Organization." 

At the end of the arraignment, Trump was released and soon boarded a flight home to Florida. It could take another year or longer before the case goes to trial. 

"Certainly we don't expect either side to back down," Varghese said. "The DA's spent a lot of time putting this case together. The president has already said he's going to fight this at every possible turn. So it's going to be a long process, a drawn out process." 

While the legal process plays out, Trump will continue campaigning. He's expected to use the charges against him to rally support among Republican voters in his bid for the White House. 

"The U.S. Constitution doesn't say anything about being charged with or convicted of a felony, so there's no legal prohibition that would keep him from running," said Varghese. 

His campaign already sent an email advertising a t-shirt with a fake mugshot of Trump with the words "Not Guilty," available for a $47 contribution. 

Trump plans to address a crowd of supporters Tuesday evening at his Mar-a-Lago resort. 

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