Trump must 'immediately' schedule a pre-sentence interview with NYC probation. Playing hooky may add to his legal woes.

  • Moments after his verdict, a court clerk gave Trump a "Court Order for Investigation and Report."

  • The form directs Trump to "Report immediately to the department of probation."

  • If he does go, he'll submit to an interview called a "pre-sentence investigation of the defendant."

Moments after those 34 "guilties" rolled in on Thursday — making him the first former president convicted of a felony — Donald Trump was handed two copies of a standard New York City Department of Probation form.

Titled "Court Order for Investigation and Report," it would have been quickly filled out by the judge's clerk with Trump's name, address, and the trial results, according to attorneys and court staff familiar with such documents.

And according to a copy of the standard form obtained by Business Insider, the bottom would read in all capital letters, "The defendant/respondent is instructed to report immediately to the department of probation" on the courthouse's 10th floor.

A blank NYC probation form of the kind Donald Trump received after his conviction in the hush-money trial.
A blank NYC probation form of the kind Donald Trump received after his conviction in the hush-money trial.Business Insider

There, in a time-worn office just down the hall from the NYPD's Sex Offender Monitoring Unit, newly-minted criminals schedule and then sit for what's known as a "pre-sentence investigation."

Conducted by a city probation officer, these brief interviews are then memorialized in a "pre-sentencing report" — also known as a "probation report" — that both sides and the judge see shortly before the sentencing.

Pre-sentencing reports include input from prosecutors and make a recommendation to the judge for what punishment — including jail, probation, fines, and community service — would be appropriate.

This is what state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan was referring to on Thursday when, after taking Trump's verdict and dismissing the jurors with his thanks, he announced to the crowded courtroom, "We will order a probation report."

"Mr. Blanche," the judge then added, as Trump remained seated at the defense table with attorneys Todd Blanche, Susan Necheles, and Emil Bove.

"The clerk of the court will give you instructions on how to go about scheduling that probation interview and getting that probation report," the judge said. Then, he set a July 11 sentencing date.

"Mr. Trump remains ROR'd" — released on his own recognizance, meaning without bail — the judge added.

This became the final utterance in the 5,000-page trial transcript, which does not record any conversation that followed between Trump and the clerk who handed him his "Court order for investigation and report" form.

A pre-sentencing interview is not mandatory under state criminal procedure law.

Trump and his entourage of attorneys and Secret Service did not, in fact, then "immediately" march four floors down from Merchan's 15th-floor courtroom to probation, according to multiple court sources, who spoke to Business Insider Friday on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to give media interviews.

Trump's lawyers can simply call probation on the phone to schedule the interview, said Diana Florence, who served for 30 years as a white-collar crime prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

"I think a privilege of being a former president is that you can get any appointment you want," said Florence, now in private practice.

But the interview itself cannot be done over the phone, said Florence and other attorneys who spoke to BI. "One thousand percent, it has to happen in person, just like the trial and sentencing has to be done in person," she said.

Unless it doesn't happen at all.

"I've had many clients just refuse to be interviewed," said veteran Manhattan defense lawyer Ron Kuby.

Kuby was one of two attorneys who noted to BI that the state criminal procedure law requires the judge to order a pre-sentencing report, but does not require that the defendant participate in the process.

"Most first-time, white-collar criminals are so utterly shocked by their conviction and so completely terrified as to what comes next, that they will crawl to the probation offices and begin the process of begging for mercy," joked Kuby.

But Trump won't do a penitent probation interview — or any at all, Kuby predicted. "There's no benefit for him," he said.

"If he wants to show remorse, then certainly the probation report is a good place to start doing that," he added. "But Donald Trump has not shown remorse and insists everybody else are the wrongdoers."

Still, by not cooperating, Trump would lose his chance to plead his case for leniency and run the very high risk of angering the judge.

Merchan would see it as Trump's latest nose-thumb at the criminal justice system, said Angel Rodriguez, founder of Avenues for Justice, a program that advocates for young people facing incarceration. Rodriguez said he has helped thousands of clients through the pre-sentencing process.

"It would piss the judge off to no end," Rodriguez predicted of Trump failing to submit to a pre-sentencing investigation, especially given his history of gag order violations and disruptive courtroom behavior.

A court sketch of Donald Trump standing among other people in the courtroom.
Donald Trump, standing after his verdict.Christine Cornell/BI

If he does do a pre-sentencing interview…

If he does submit to a pre-sentencing interview in the next month or so, Trump would not have an attorney with him as he sits face-to-face with a probation officer, said Arnold Levine, a longtime public defender with the Legal Aid Society of New York's Homicide Defense Task Force.

If Trump were just another defendant, the interview would take place on the 10th floor of the same Lower Manhattan courthouse where he stood trial for a month and a half.

He'd sit beforehand in a waiting room with other probationers. But given Trump's unique security needs, other accommodations — including an off-site or video interview — are always a possibility.

It's not a long interview, said Levine and others. During the first part of the interview, Trump would be asked for standard, so-called "pedigree" information — name, aliases, address, profession, marital status, that kind of thing.

He'd also be asked if he has any health, substance abuse, or domestic violence issues and whether he owns a firearm.

During the rest of the interview, Trump would be offered the chance to speak about his conviction and make a plea for leniency.

"It's perfectly fine to say the matter is on appeal, and I maintain my innocence," Florence said. "What's not fine is to say the judge is corrupt and the jury is corrupt, and the witnesses must die," she joked.

What does a probation report look like?

"I've seen hundreds of probation reports," said Florence, the former Manhattan white-collar crime prosecutor.

"They kind of look like almost a passport application, white with black lines, all typed," she said, guestimating that Trump's would run about five to seven pages long.

"It would be a narrative that would say something like, 'based on the facts and circumstances, we recommend a sentence of at least one to three years,' or maybe a split jail-probation sentence, or straight probation, or community service," she said, ticking off the possibilities that await the former president.

It's possible that Trump, his lawyers, the prosecutors, and even the judge would not get their copies in advance.

"Generally speaking, they'll all be flipping through it at the defense and the prosecution tables right before the sentencing," Florence said.

An attorney for Trump did not respond to a request for comment.

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