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Hunter Biden trial on criminal gun charges begins in Delaware

In News, World
June 03, 2024

US President Joe Biden’s son Hunter has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the purchase and possession of a gun.

The criminal trial of Hunter Biden has begun in federal court in Delaware, the United States as US President Joe Biden’s son faces gun charges in a historic case.

Hunter Biden, 54, arrived at the courthouse on Monday for the first trial of the child of a sitting president, in which he will face three felony charges stemming from his purchase and possession of a revolver in 2018. He has pleaded not guilty.

The trial, which began with jury selection on Monday, comes as Joe Biden campaigns for re-election.

First Lady Jill Biden, Hunter Biden’s wife Melissa Cohen Biden and his half-sister Ashley Biden were in attendance at the trial in Wilmington, before US District Judge Maryellen Noreika.

“Jill and I love our son and we are so proud of the man he is today,” Joe Biden said in a statement, adding that a lot of families have loved ones who have overcome addiction.

First lady Jill Biden arrives ahead of Hunter Biden's trial at federal court
US First Lady Jill Biden arrives ahead of Hunter Biden’s trial at federal court [Matt Slocum/AP Photo]

Hunter Biden was charged with lying about his use of illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra .38-calibre revolver and with illegally possessing the weapon for 11 days in October 2018.

If convicted on all charges in the Delaware case, Hunter Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, though defendants generally receive shorter sentences, according to the US Department of Justice.

The case is expected to centre on Hunter Biden’s years-long crack cocaine use and addiction, which he has discussed publicly and which was a prominent part of his 2021 autobiography, entitled Beautiful Things. He told Noreika at a hearing last year that he has been sober since the middle of 2019.

Prosecutors will seek to prove that Hunter Biden knew he was lying when he ticked the box for “no” next to a question on a federal gun purchase form asking if he was an unlawful user of a controlled substance.

Prosecution lawyers revealed in court filings that they may use details gleaned from Hunter Biden’s phone and iCloud account, including photos of him smoking crack and messages with drug dealers. They said they may call as a witness his former wife Kathleen Buhle.

Hunter Biden arrives at federal court
Hunter Biden arrives at federal court [Matt Slocum/AP Photo]

Hunter Biden’s lawyers have indicated they may try to show he had completed a drug rehabilitation programme before purchasing the gun and may have considered his answer on the gun purchase form to be truthful.

Noreika entered multiple orders over the weekend that were requested by prosecutors and that appeared to undercut Biden’s legal strategy.

The judge said Biden’s legal team could not introduce expert testimony that people suffering from substance abuse disorder might not consider themselves an addict.

That testimony could have helped Biden show that he did not know he was lying on the background check form. The government is required to prove that Biden knowingly lied.

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