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Inside Hunter Biden’s federal gun case in Delaware

Bernd Debusmann Jr.,BBC News, Washington

Getty Image shows Hunter Biden arriving at court on Monday with his wifeGetty

Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted of federal crimes in Delaware

With the judge’s attack in Delaware, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son, became the first child of a sitting president to become a criminal defendant.

Prosecutors allege the younger Biden, 54, lied about drug use on an application when he bought a handgun in 2018.

Mr. Biden pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Opening statements in the case are expected to begin Tuesday, after the 12 jurors and four alternates are sworn in Monday.

If a jury finds him guilty of all three federal charges, Mr. Biden could face up to 25 years in prison.

The trial – which takes place as his father is campaigning for re-election – is likely to see prosecutors delve into the explicit details of Mr Biden’s cocaine addiction, potentially providing fodder for the president’s political enemies.

President Biden has repeatedly declined to comment on the trial, but he said in a statement the morning the trial began that he had “boundless love” and “faith” in his son.

“Hunter’s resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he brings to recovery are inspiring to us,” the elder Biden said.

Here’s what we know about the case.

What are the fees?

Mr. Biden is facing three federal charges in the case: two counts of perjury and one count of illegal gun possession.

All of the charges relate to his purchase of a revolver at a gun store in Delaware in October 2018, which he kept for approximately 11 days.

By Mr. Biden’s own admission, he was in a “full addiction” to cocaine at that time.

The two perjury charges stem from allegations that he lied about his drug use on a federally prescribed form when purchasing firearms.

Getty Image shows Jill Biden arriving at courtGetty

First lady Jill Biden arrives in court to begin jury selection

Specifically, prosecutors allege that he falsely represented that he was “not an illegal user and addict of any stimulant drug” when purchasing a Colt Cobra Special revolver.

The third charge involved him possessing a firearm while an alleged drug user.

The gun was discarded and discovered at a grocery store in Greenville, Delaware, leading to an investigation that eventually led investigators back to the file.

How strong is the evidence?

To convict Mr. Biden, prosecutors will have to convince a jury that he intentionally made false statements on the form to mislead the store that sold him the handgun.

In addition, they will have to prove that Mr. Biden is a drug user or drug addict and owned a gun despite knowing so much.

US District Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled that defense attorneys could not argue that the prosecution could only reach a guilty verdict by proving Mr Biden had used drugs on the day he bought them. weapons.

Instead, during the pre-trial hearing, the judge agreed with prosecutors’ argument that they only needed to prove that “the illegal use (had) occurred recently enough to show that the individual (was) actively engaged in that conduct”.

In court filings filed before the trial began, prosecutors suggested that they would rely in part on deeply personal text messages and other communications made while Mr. Biden is in an addiction.

In one such message quoted in court documents, Mr. Biden referred to himself as “a liar, a thief, a blamer and a user and I am delusional and an addict.” , unlike all the other addicts you know”.

The prosecution is also expected to rely on the testimony of witnesses including his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and Hallie Biden, Mr Biden’s ex-partner – who is also the widow of Mr Biden’s brother, Beau.

Prosecutors will also be able to point to Mr Biden’s own 2021 memoir, in which he details his experiences as a drug user “awake 24 hours a day, smoking 15 minutes a day”. times, seven days a week”.

“All my energy revolved around smoking drugs and arranging to buy drugs – feeding the monsters,” he wrote in the book.

Getty ImagesHerner Biden speaks to reporters on Capitol Hillbeautiful images

Hunter Biden repeatedly accused Republicans of using his addiction and recovery to “humiliate” and attack his father

While Mr. Biden himself has remained silent about the trial, legal documents filed by his lawyers indicate that they will focus on the extent to which Mr. Biden was aware of his addiction at the conclusion of the sale. and the quality of the evidence itself.

His lead attorney, Abbe Lowell, unsuccessfully sought court permission to call an expert witness who could testify about the addict’s understanding of his substance abuse problems. .

In an interview with the BBC after Mr. Biden declared his innocence, Professor Dru Stevenson of South Texas College of Law said that illegal gun possession charges often lead to a “bad case.”

“I don’t think there’s any question [Mr Biden] will be convicted.”

The third allegation, related to Mr. Biden’s alleged possession of a gun while using drugs, is considered unusual because it is difficult to prove someone was a drug user and had a gun.

“It’s rare that they go after someone and prosecute them for this,” Professor Stevenson said. “But this is a high-ranking figure and there have been members of Congress asking for his prosecution.”

Notorious laptops may have features

Among the most prominent evidence at the trial may be information about Mr. Biden’s infamous laptop, which has been the focus of intense media speculation and attention from conservative news outlets. .

The laptop is also at the center of unproven theories linking Mr. Biden and his father to corruption, which both deny.

Mr. Biden’s personal lawyers have argued that the computer was tampered with before it fell into the hands of investigators.

The special prosecutor assigned to oversee the Hunter Biden investigations, David Weiss, has said the tampering argument is a “conspiracy theory” and has “no supporting evidence.”

In a May filing, prosecutors wrote that the laptop contained “significant evidence” of Mr. Biden’s guilt.

Could he go to prison if convicted?

The two counts of perjury each carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years, while the third count is punishable by up to five years – meaning Mr Biden could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted .

However, actual sentences for federal crimes are often less than the maximum penalties established by law.

If Mr. Biden is convicted, the judge in the case will ultimately decide the sentence after considering sentencing guidelines and many other legal factors.

Hunter Biden’s Other Allegations

In addition to the gun charges in Delaware, Mr. Biden also faces separate federal charges in California over allegations that he evaded taxes, failed to properly file and pay taxes, and filed fraudulent tax returns.

Months after the spectacular collapse of a plea deal resolving both charges last year, Mr. Biden also plead not guilty to taxes.


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