Guilty on all charges. Will Hunter Biden go to prison?

Photo Title, Hunter Biden’s three felony convictions mean he could face up to 25 years in prison

Hunter Biden was found guilty on all drug and weapons charges, making him the first child of a sitting president to be convicted of a crime.

President Joe Biden’s son is now awaiting sentencing – the maximum penalty he could receive is 25 years in prison, although experts say such a sentence is very unlikely.

Here’s what we know about this historic case and what happens next.

  • Author, Brandon Drenon
  • Role, BBC News, Washington

Will Hunter Biden go to prison?

Legal experts said that if Biden is sentenced to prison, it is highly unlikely that he would face a maximum sentence of 25 years on the three gun charges.

Even for the illegal drug use and weapons charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years, few believe Biden will face the full potential punishment.

South Texas College of Law in Houston professor Dru Stevenson said it would be “odd and unprecedented” if Biden were to receive a sentence closer to five years.

“This includes people who (are) really dangerous, like people who were already on the FBI watch list,” he said.

Stevenson said there was a “50-50 chance” of a prison sentence and that he expected a sentence closer to 20 months.

“It’s hard to predict, but I think it’s very possible,” he said.

Stevenson said it’s also possible Biden will receive probation instead of prison.

Biden’s apparent rehabilitation status would also suggest a lighter sentence.

But he noted that the judge overseeing the case refused to give Biden’s lawyers “any breaks” during the trial.

Judge Noreika was tough on Biden’s lawyers during evidentiary hearings, a Texas professor said, and often ruled against defense attorneys’ requests.

This could indicate that Biden faces a harsher sentence than most consider typical.

When will he be sentenced?

Judge Maryellen Noreika is expected to schedule a sentencing hearing in the next few weeks.

Biden will also meet with probation officers to obtain a pre-sentence report for the judge to use.

It is unlikely that he will be held in custody in the meantime.

Even with a prison sentence, Biden is not expected to immediately surrender to authorities.

Rather, he was probably given a date to report.

Former Assistant US Attorney Neama Rahmani told the BBC that once the verdict is handed down, Biden’s team will have 30 days to file an appeal, which Rahmani said is very likely.

“This is an appealable case,” he said.

He added that sending Biden to prison would be a “logistical nightmare” because of the Secret Service protection he receives as the president’s son.

video caption, A BBC reporter describes Hunter Biden’s reaction in court after the verdict was read

What were the charges?

Biden faces three federal charges in the case: two counts of making false statements and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon.

All charges stem from his purchasing the revolver at a Delaware gun store in October 2018 and keeping it for approximately 11 days.

By his own admission, Biden was “fully addicted” to crack cocaine at the time.

The two perjury counts stemmed from allegations that he lied about his drug use on a federally required form when purchasing a gun.

The third charge was for him possessing a firearm while taking drugs.

Photo Title, First Lady Jill Biden arrives at the courthouse to begin jury selection

Will President Joe Biden pardon his son?

Before his sentencing, President Biden announced that he would not pardon his son.

Asked in an interview with ABC News if he would rule out that option, he replied: “Yes.”

After the verdict, he appears to be sticking to the same message.

On Tuesday, he said in a statement: “I accept the outcome of this case and will continue to respect the judicial process while Hunter hears his appeal.”

How strong was the evidence?

To convict Biden, prosecutors had to convince jurors that he knowingly made false statements on the form in an attempt to defraud the store that sold him the gun.

Prosecutors relied on highly personal text messages and other communications made while Biden was in the throes of addiction to prove he was a drug user when he took possession of the gun.

In one such message sent to Hallie Biden the day after purchasing the gun, Biden claims he was on his way to meet a dealer named Mookie.

Mrs. Biden, called to testify by prosecutors, told the court that the lyrics meant “he was buying crack.”

Other witnesses called to testify were Biden’s ex-wife Kathleen Buhle and ex-girlfriend Zoe Kestan, who spoke about his addiction.

Prosecutors also pointed to Biden’s own 2021 memoir, in which he detailed his experiences as a drug addict who “wasn’t sleeping twenty-four hours a day, smoking every 15 minutes, seven days a week.”

“All my energy was focused on smoking drugs and planning to buy them – feeding the beast,” he wrote in the book.

Image source, Getty Images

Photo Title, Hunter Biden has repeatedly accused Republicans of using his addiction and recovery to “sham” and attack his father

While Biden himself has remained silent about the trial, his lawyers have focused on how aware he was of his addiction at the time of the purchase and the quality of the evidence itself.

In cross-examining Hallie Biden, defense attorney Abbe Lowell also sought to cast doubt on whether his client was seen using drugs on or around the day of the purchase.

The third allegation, alleging that Biden was in possession of a firearm while using drugs, is considered unusual because proving that someone is a drug user and possesses a gun can be difficult.

“It’s really rare for them to go after someone and prosecute them for this,” Professor Stevenson said. “But this is a famous person and some members of Congress demanded that he be brought to justice.”

The most important evidence in the trial includes information about Biden’s infamous laptop, which has been the subject of intense media speculation and attention from conservative news outlets.

The laptop contained text messages and photos sent and received by Biden around the date of the gun purchase, which prosecutors say is evidence of his guilt.

Biden’s lawyers argue that the computer was modified before it fell into the hands of investigators.

Erika Jensen, an FBI agent called as a witness to testify about the laptop’s contents, confirmed its authenticity to jurors.

The special prosecutor assigned to oversee the Hunter Biden investigation, David Weiss, said the manipulation argument is a “conspiracy theory” “without any supporting evidence.”

The laptop has also been at the center of unsubstantiated theories linking Biden and his father to corruption, which both deny.

Hunter Biden’s other allegations

In addition to the gun charges in Delaware, Biden faces separate federal charges in California over allegations he evaded tax assessments, improperly filed and failed to pay taxes and filed a false tax return.

Months after the spectacular failure of last year’s settlement on both sets of charges, Biden also pleaded not guilty to paying taxes.