Former President Donald Trump could not be immediately pardoned if he were to be convicted on charges in Georgia, which were filed against him in an indictment issued on Monday.
Trump was indicted on 13 felony counts, including racketeering, for his alleged attempts to change the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state. According to Georgia law and regulations, Trump cannot receive a pardon from the governor of Georgia and must wait at least five years after finishing any prison sentence he might receive before applying for one, according to the State Board of Pardons and Paroles guidelines. (RELATED: We’re Getting A Trump Mugshot After All)
“President Trump could only apply for a pardon if he were to be convicted only after he served five years in a Georgia penitentiary,” said Ronald Carlson, a professor at the University of Georgia School of Law, to Business Insider. The language specified by the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles indicates that a defendant “must have completed all sentence(s) at least five (5) years prior to applying,” and that they “cannot have any pending charges.”
Trump also could not apply for a “pre-emptive” pardon, a type of pardon that exists under federal law and ends any criminal proceedings before a conviction. “[T]he language in the Georgia Constitution is unequivocal: [t]he Board may only grant pardons after conviction,” according to a report by the Brookings Institution.
The Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles comprises five members, who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the state Senate and serve seven-year terms, according to Article IV, Section II of the Constitution of Georgia. “It’s set up in a statute here that’s pretty insulated from political pressure,” Carlson told Business Insider, adding “that’s the way it should be.”
Monday’s indictment, issued by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Wills, is the fourth set of criminal charges Trump is facing — the others being federal charges in Washington, D.C. and Florida, related to his attempts to overturn the 2020 election and possession of classified documents after leaving office, respectively, as well as state charges in New York over the falsification of business records.
If Trump is convicted in either Georgia or New York on state charges, he cannot receive an executive pardon from the president of the United States, whose constitutional pardon power is limited to federal proceedings. This would preclude Trump from pardoning himself on charges were he elected president in 2024.
The date of Trump’s arraignment at the Fulton County Superior Court has not been set.
The last former president to receive a pardon was Richard Nixon in 1974, who was preemptively pardoned by then-President Gerald R. Ford for offenses arising from the Watergate scandal.
Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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