Hunter Biden Found Guilty on All Counts in Felony Gun Case, Could Face Prison at Sentencing

Hunter Biden now faces a second trial, for federal tax evasion, which is expected to start in September.

AP/Matt Rourke
Hunter Biden, center, President Biden's son, accompanied by his stepmother, first lady Jill Biden, left, and his wife, Melissa Cohen Biden, right, walking out of federal court after hearing the verdict, June 11, 2024, at Wilmington, Delaware. Biden has been convicted of all 3 felony charges in the federal gun trial. AP/Matt Rourke

Hunter Biden has been convicted on three counts related to his purchase of a firearm in 2018 while he was actively addicted to drugs. The week-long trial was deeply emotional for members of the first family, and the verdict threatens to put the first son’s troubles, which are far from over, at the center of his father’s re-election campaign. 

Shortly after 11 o’clock on Tuesday morning the jury forewoman — a younger blonde woman — read the verdict aloud in a courtroom at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building at Wilmington, Delaware. The building is named after Senator Boggs, whom a young President Biden defeated in an upset in 1972, launching his national political career.

The jury in the Hunter Biden case deliberated for a total of just three hours. 

After the verdict, Biden said in a statement that he was “grateful today for the love and support I experienced this last week” from friends and family, many of whom attended the trial. His attorney, Abbe Lowell, said the defense team would “continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available to Hunter.”

Biden was indicted by Special Counsel David Weiss for lying on a federal form about his drug use in order to purchase a Colt Cobra revolver on October 12, 2018. Mr. Weiss, when he was U.S. Attorney for Delaware, offered Biden a “sweetheart plea deal” — as Republicans called it — that would have allowed him to avoid jail time for both the gun purchase and failure to pay taxes over the course of several years. 

Ultimately, after the plea deal was heavily criticized by Republicans for the sweeping immunity it offered the first son for any past crimes, Judge Maryellen Noreika rejected it, saying it could be “unconstitutional” for the judicial branch to enforce such broad immunity provisions.  After the deal was rejected, Biden was indicted just weeks later, both in the gun case and, in a separate case, for felony tax evasion. 

A reporter runs before Hunter Biden, son of President Biden, and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, return to the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 11, 2024 at Wilmington, Delaware for the reading of the verdict. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

During the trial, prosecutors painted a damning portrait of Biden around the time he bought the gun as a heavy drug user smoking crack cocaine several times an hour, according to the testimony from his ex-wife Kathleen Buhle, his ex-girlfriend and former sister-in-law, Hallie Biden, and a stripper ex-girlfriend, Zoe Kestan. 

The testimony from Hallie Biden was especially notable, as she described finding the gun in Biden’s truck, “panicking,” and throwing it out in a garbage bin outside an upscale Wilmington grocery story, only a few days after the gun had been purchased. A scavenger looking for cans found the gun, which ended up in the hands of law enforcement, ultimately leading to the criminal charges.

Hallie Biden, the mother of two of President Biden’s grandchildren, admitted during her testimony to smoking crack with Hunter Biden during their relationship, which ended in 2019. She remarried last week.

During closing arguments on Monday, Biden’s lawyers said the government did not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Biden was using drugs at the time he bought the gun. They pointed out that he had just attended rehab and claimed the defense had created “an accordion” with its narrative, conflating lurid testimony and documentary evidence over several years to make it sound, without verification, that the drug use was occuring in 2018.

Judge Noreika has not yet set a date for sentencing, but she told Biden and his attorneys that the hearing would occur a few months after the verdict — meaning Biden could be sentenced to several years in prison just weeks before the November election. 

In a statement released after the verdict was read, President Biden said he “will accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal.” Mr. Biden told ABC News last week that he would not pardon his son, which he has the power to do, were he found guilty.

Hunter Biden, son President Biden, joined by his wife Melissa Cohen Biden, returns to court at the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 11, 2024 at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Trump said in a statement that the trial “has been nothing more than a distraction from the real crimes of the Biden Crime Family, which has raked in tens of millions of dollars from China, Russia and Ukraine.” The former president added that, “Never again will a Biden sell government access for personal profit.”

As the verdict was read, Biden and his attorneys stared straight ahead, as did Biden’s wife, Melissa Cohen. The first lady, Jill Biden, who has attended every day of the trial save one, was not in the room when the verdict was read. She arrived at the courthouse shortly after the verdict and later exited with her stepson, holding his hand.

The president’s brother and sister, Jim Biden and Valerie Biden Owens, both appeared stone-faced outside the courtroom after the verdict was read. Biden’s “sugar brother” and longtime financial backer, Kevin Morris, scowled as he got into an elevator with members of the first family. 

Both of the prosecutors who handled the case, Derek Hines and Leo Wise, did not stop to answer questions when they left the courthouse on Tuesday morning. Neither did Biden’s legal team.

Hallie Biden, daughter in-law of President Biden, departs from the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building after testifying in the trial of Hunter Biden on June 6, 2024 at Wilmington, Delaware. Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Based on federal sentencing guidelines, Biden could face up to 25 years in prison for the two counts of lying to the federal government about his drug use in order to buy a gun and one count of possessing a gun while being addicted to drugs, though he has no criminal record and the maximum sentence is unlikely to be imposed on such an offender. 

Biden’s defense team argued persistently leading up to the trial that the first son was being politically persecuted by prosecutors under pressure from Republicans, who have made Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings the focus on an impeachment investigation into his father, which is now stalled. The gun charges are rarely brought against defendants who aren’t being pursued for more serious crimes, Mr. Biden’s attorneys argued. They also argued that the plea bargain was still binding, an argument Judge Noreika rejected.

Biden’s attorney also argued that their client has the constitutional right to own a gun, following a 2022 Supreme Court decision that limited the rights the states can put on gun ownership. Those arguments will likely be a central part of Biden’s appeal.

If Judge Noreika sentences Biden to prison, he may be allowed to avoid reporting to jail during the appeals process, which could take years.

A protester stands outside of the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building on June 11, 2024 at Wilmington, Delaware. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Mr. Weiss has also charged Biden with evading more than $1.4 million in taxes between 2016 and 2019 — a time period when he has admitted to skirting family and financial responsibilities in order to buy drugs. That trial is due to commence in California on September 5. 

Furthermore, last week House Republicans referred Hunter and James Biden to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution, accusing them of lying to Congress about “key aspects of the impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden.” The Biden Justice Department is unlikely to pursue charges, though that could change if Trump is re-elected.

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