Hunter Biden in Delaware court. What is he charged with?

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden departs after a court appearance in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, Oct. 3. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden departs after a court appearance in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, Oct. 3. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)


Hunter Biden was arraigned on gun charges in federal court on Oct. 3, but his lawyer says the case is unconstitutional and he has grounds for dismissal.

The criminal charges — the first-ever to be brought against a sitting president’s child — stem from Biden’s purported purchase of a handgun.

What is Hunter Biden accused of?

He is accused of lying, both on federal forms and to a gun dealer, while purchasing a revolver from a Wilmington, Delaware, gun store in 2018.

Biden, an admitted crack addict, certified that he was not a user of controlled substances, according to a press release from Special Counsel David Weiss, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August to oversee an ongoing investigation into Biden.

He is also accused of possessing the handgun for an 11-day period as an unlawful user of illicit substances.

A grand jury charged Biden with three felony firearm offenses.

If convicted, he could face up to 25 years in prison, though “actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties,” according to the release.

In his court appearance on Oct. 3, he pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

The charges come after a plea agreement between Biden, 53, and federal prosecutors fell apart in July.

Under the agreement, Biden would have pleaded guilty to misdemeanor tax violations and entered a diversion program, which would have allowed him to avoid gun charges if he remained drug-free and law-abiding, NPR reported.

Lawyer argues for dismissal

Biden’s attorney, Abbe Lowell, argued the charges against his client stem from a Republican pressure campaign and have no legal standing.

“These charges are the result of political pressure from President Trump and his MAGA allies to force the Justice Department to ignore the law and deviate from its policies in cases like this one,” Lowell said in a statement provided to McClatchy News.

He intends to file a motion to dismiss all three charges, according to the Associated Press.

“The only substantive and relevant changes since July, when the US Attorney decided against pursuing these exact charges against Mr. Biden,” Lowell said, “have been various court rulings undermining the constitutionality of the law at issue here and a coordinated, partisan attack on our system of justice by right-wing Republicans.”

The Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling on gun rights, in particular, will serve as a key part of Lowell’s argument for dismissal, according to CBS News.

In the 6-3 ruling, the high court struck down a New York state law that placed limits on who could obtain a concealed carry permit for a handgun.

Writing in the majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said, “The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not ‘a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.’”

Referencing the new standard established by the high court, a federal court ruled in August that drug users cannot be barred from legally owning guns.

In his case for dismissal, Lowell, a partner at Winston and Strawn, also plans to argue that part of Biden’s earlier plea agreement containing immunity provisions remains valid, according to CBS News.

However, if Lowell is unsuccessful and the charges are not dismissed, the case could go to trial in 2024, while his father, President Joe Biden, hits the campaign trail, according to the Associated Press.

The campaign season is already shaping up to be filled with high-profile trials as Donald Trump, the front-runner for the GOP nomination, faces charges in four criminal cases.

More to know

The charges against Hunter Biden coincide with a recently launched impeachment inquiry into President Biden by House Republicans.

Republicans in the House Oversight Committee allege that the president benefited from Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings, though no direct evidence of such conduct has been provided, according to Reuters.

Republicans on the committee have criticized the leniency they say Hunter Biden is receiving.

Kentucky Rep. James Comer, chair of the House Oversight Committee, called Hunter Biden’s summer plea agreement a “sweetheart deal,” telling Fox News, “Anyone else in America whose last name isn’t Biden or Clinton would’ve gone to jail.”

Democrats, on the other hand, have downplayed the significance of Hunter Biden’s long-running legal woes.

“Hunter Biden has nothing to do with government, he’s a private citizen,” California Rep. Ro Khanna told MSNBC in November. “And it is cruel that (the GOP is) attacking him.”

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