Hunter Biden convicted on gun charges: Will he go to jail?

Sentencing to take place at latest by October 9, about a month before his father, US President Joe Biden, seeks re-election.

Hunter Biden, the son of United States President Joe Biden, has been found guilty of illegally buying a gun while under the influence of drugs in 2018, becoming the first child of a sitting president to be a convicted felon.

The younger Biden, 54, showed little reaction to the verdict on Tuesday and left the Delaware courthouse holding hands with his wife Melissa Cohen Biden and first lady Jill Biden.

Here is all you need to know about the conviction:

What is Hunter Biden convicted of?

Hunter Biden was indicted on September 14 on three counts regarding a 2018 purchase of a Colt Cobra .38 Special revolver from a gun shop in Wilmington, Delaware, the Bidens’ hometown.

He was found guilty of making a false claim on the application to buy the gun by saying he was not a drug user and was convicted of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer.

Hunter Biden was also found guilty of knowingly owning the gun while being an unlawful drug user. He owned the pistol for 11 days in October 2018.

A 12-member jury‘s guilty verdicts concluded a trial that began on June 3.

Hunter Biden’s myriad personal woes made their way into the trial with two of his ex-girlfriends testifying in court – Hallie Biden, who was married to Hunter’s late brother, Beau Biden, and Zoe Kestan. Hallie Biden told the court she found the revolver in his truck and threw it in a dumpster out of fear while Kestan told the court that she witnessed Hunter Biden use crack cocaine at luxury hotels.

Will Hunter Biden go to prison?

According to the US Department of Justice, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison.

Such a sentence is unlikely, given Hunter Biden is a nonviolent, first-time offender. He might face a much shorter sentence or even probation instead of prison, legal experts said.

When is Hunter Biden’s sentencing?

District Judge Maryellen Noreika has not specified a sentencing date but said it will take place within 120 days of the verdict.

This means the sentencing will take place at the latest by October 9, less than a month before Joe Biden faces former President Donald Trump in the US presidential election on November 5.

What’s next?

Hunter Biden’s defence attorney Abbe Lowell released a statement on Tuesday saying they will “continue to vigorously pursue all the legal challenges available”.

Hunter Biden’s legal team can argue that the firearm was not used in a crime. In fact, it was not used at all during the 11 days he possessed it.

Additionally, they might note that he has been sober since 2019.

Will the conviction affect the election in November?

His son’s conviction is a big blow to Joe Biden ahead of the election.

The trial began days after Trump was convicted of falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment he made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels after a sexual encounter. The cover-up was carried out before the 2016 presidential election, which Trump won.

Biden supporters have amplified Trump’s felony convictions, but the former president’s supporters say the slew of legal cases against him are politically orchestrated.

They have pointed out that Noreika and another federal judge, Mark Scarsi, who is overseeing a tax case against Hunter Biden, were appointed by Trump.

Costas Panagopoulos, head of Northeastern University’s Department of Political Science, said in an interview with the university’s news website that Hunter Biden’s and Trump’s convictions reinforce that the US judicial system is working under President Biden, contradicting Trump’s allegation that it is rigged.

Additionally, because this is a federal case, Joe Biden holds the power to pardon his son. However, the White House has explicitly ruled this out.

After the verdict was announced, President Biden said he would accept the outcome of the case and “will continue to respect the judicial process as Hunter considers an appeal”.

What other charges does Hunter Biden face?

Hunter Biden’s legal woes do not end here as he also faces tax evasion charges. He has pleaded not guilty in that case. His trial is expected to begin on September 5 in Los Angeles.

Prosecutors allege that Hunter Biden evaded $1.4m in taxes from 2016 to 2019. If convicted, he faces a prison term of up to 17 years.

Source: Al Jazeera