TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — On Thursday, former President Donald Trump was expected to be arrested for the fourth time. We’ve now seen this process play out several times, but there are some differences this time around.
In Fulton County, the booking and the arraignment don’t happen on the same day. When the arraignment does happen, it could be most dramatic.
In Georgia, cameras are allowed in courtrooms.
This is a racketeering case against a former president in state court. It is something that we’ve never seen before.
Some legal experts say the fourth criminal case against former President Trump poses the greatest threat to his freedom.
President Trump and 18 allies are accused of working towards one common goal: To overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia. The indictment identifies various acts to further that alleged objective.
“I am giving the defendants the opportunity to voluntarily surrender,” said Fulton County DA Fani Willis.
Willis says the defendants created fake electors, lied to state officials, and harassed election workers. She charged Trump and associates – both known and unknown – with violating Georgia’s RICO statute.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is typically used to go after organized criminal groups, street gangs, and the mob.
Michael Bachner is a Former Manhattan Assistant District Attorney.
“The RICO statute is kind of a conspiracy on steroids,” said Bachner.
Bachner says if convicted, the defendants would face mandatory jail sentences. So, RICO raises the stakes.
“That is the type of pressure that can be used to exert on underlings, people substantially below where Trump falls in the food chain, to try and get them to cooperate against him,” he said.
Attorney Timothy Parlatore was one of Trump’s attorneys in the Mar-a-Lago documents case.
“I would say that Fani Willis is taking a much bigger gamble than Jack Smith has,” said Parlatore. “She’s taken a bigger gamble where the risk and the reward are both much higher.”
He says RICO requires a pattern of activity and continuity, for example, multiple robberies over a long period of time.
Parlatore says Willis is using RICO in a novel way. He believes the Georgia case may be transferred to federal court and eventually dismissed.
“If you and I agree that were going to rob a bank, and we steal a car, we rob a bank, we take a gun… under Fanni Willis’ theory, that becomes a RICO,” he said. “She’s trying to take this tool and stretch it far beyond the limits of what the legislature and Supreme Court has put in place.”
There are two federal cases against Trump.
If convicted and re-elected, he could potentially pardon himself, but that’s not so with the state case.
Legal observers believe the Georgia case is stronger than the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over alleged hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.