Former President Donald Trump was indicted last week on 37 counts related to his handling of classified documents, and all eyes are on the former president ahead of his first court appearance in the case on Tuesday.
The charges against Trump range from withholding classified information, to obstructing justice, to making false statements, and more. The former president reportedly kept documents related to nuclear weaponry, White House intelligence briefings and other military capabilities.
Some of the main charges against Trump carry sentences of up to 20 years in prison. The former president has maintained his innocence, but the sweeping indictment has prompted some to question whether Trump would accept a possible plea deal in the case.
But what is a plea agreement? Could Trump agree to the legal deal? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a plea agreement?
A plea agreement is an “agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a concession from the prosecutor,” according to the Justice Department.
The specifics depend on the case, but these concessions can include prosecutors recommending a lesser sentence to a judge, officials dismissing certain charges and more.
Either party can enter into negotiations over a proposed plea deal, the American Bar Association explained. Plea agreements can help defendants, such as Trump, avoid “the time and expense of defending themselves at trial,” according to the association. And prosecutors can also save the cost and time of a long trial.
Will Donald Trump accept a plea deal?
Trump, in an interview with Politico published Saturday, said he did not believe he would be convicted and did not expect to accept a plea deal. He considered the option if they “pay me damages,” according to the outlet.
Damages, according to the Department of Justice, are funds paid into civil cases to compensate people for their injuries. The charges against Trump are criminal, not civil, although the former president did not immediately specify what compensation he was referring to.
USA TODAY has contacted Trump for additional information.
Plea agreements require a person to plead guilty, although sometimes people can plead guilty to less serious charges.
A Trump lawyer, Alina Habba, told Fox News on Sunday that she would advise the president against a plea deal, despite not representing Trump in his latest indictment.
“You’re taking a plea deal to make something disappear,” Habba said. “It’s an admission of guilt. He would never admit his guilt. Because there was nothing wrong with declassifying documents, taking documents with you.”
Trump is accused of showing some of the documents to guests at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. He reportedly acknowledged that some of the documents were classified, saying “it’s still a secret,” the indictment says.
Contributors: Bart Jansen and Josh Mayer, USA TODAY; Associated press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Will Donald Trump accept a plea deal on the indictment of classified documents?