Former President of the United States Donald Trump was charged with 34 counts in a Manhattan court in New York on Tuesday (4 April).

He pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts of falsifying business records, but what do the charges mean?

FactCheck takes a look.

What has Donald Trump been charged with?

Mr Trump was charged with 34 felony counts relating to an alleged hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who says they had an affair.

The payment of $130,000 (£104,000) was reportedly made before the 2016 presidential election.

His former lawyer, Michael Cohen, has said he made the payment at Mr Trump’s direction.

While such a payment is not illegal, spending money in order to help a presidential campaign but not disclosing it violates federal campaign finance law.

Prosecutors also released background documents which they said suggest a pattern of aiming to suppress stories that could be potentially damaging.

They listed two other payments, one being $30,000 allegedly paid to buy the silence of a doorman at Trump Tower who claimed Mr Trump had a lovechild, and $150,000 allegedly paid to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had a sexual relationship with Mr Trump.

Prosecutors said both payments were made by the National Enquirer, a US tabloid whose publisher is a long-time ally of Mr Trump.

The former President has denied affairs with Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal, and the claims of the Trump Tower doorman were found to be untrue.

Mr Trump is also the focus of three other investigations. These are related to efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, the attack on the Capitol as it was certifying Joe Biden’s victory, and the former president’s handling of classified documents after leaving the White House.

Why is Trump facing felony charges and not misdemeanours?

Mr Trump is facing felony charges, which is usually defined as a crime punishable by a year or more in prison.

Each of the charges against the former president carry a maximum of four years in prison, but a judge could sentence the former president to probation if he is convicted.

In contrast, in US law a misdemeanour is usually punishable by “community service, probation, fines, and imprisonment for less than a year”, according to the Cornell Law School.

Although in New York, falsifying business records on its own is a misdemeanour which is punishable by no more than one year in prison, it becomes a felony punishable by up to four years in prison when it is done in order to advance or conceal another crime.

Could Donald Trump run in the 2024 presidential election if he’s convicted?

Although a criminal conviction would not prevent Mr Trump from either running for President or becoming leader of the country once more, the legal fight could be a distraction in the run-up to the elections.

In court on Tuesday, Judge Merchan said Mr Trump’s trial could begin as early as January 2024.

This means the former Republican President could be back in court just as primaries begin to select the party’s nominee for the election, which is due to take place in November of the same year.