Hunter Biden’s Appeal Rejected by Federal Court, Trial Set for Next Week

Hunter Biden | Source:

Overview: The federal appellate court has rejected Hunter Biden’s appeal to dismiss felony gun charges, setting the stage for his trial next week in Delaware. Biden faces three counts related to his 2018 firearm purchase during a period of drug addiction.

Why It Matters: This case underscores the ongoing legal challenges faced by Hunter Biden and highlights the judiciary’s interpretation of Second Amendment rights in contemporary contexts.

Who It Impacts: The outcome impacts Hunter Biden directly, with broader implications for firearm regulations and the legal precedents affecting individuals with substance abuse histories.

A federal appellate court on Tuesday denied Hunter Biden’s appeal to dismiss his felony gun charges, paving the way for his trial in Delaware scheduled to begin next week. The charges against Biden, stemming from his 2018 purchase and brief possession of a handgun while battling drug addiction, include three counts of federal firearm offenses.

Biden had argued for the dismissal of the charges on the grounds of Second Amendment rights, referencing the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest standards on the constitutionality of firearm regulations. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit deemed his appeal premature, stating that such defenses should be addressed post-trial. “The defendant’s Second Amendment defense does not implicate a right not to be tried that can be collaterally appealed,” the panel of judges wrote.

The judicial panel, comprising Judges Thomas Hardiman, Cheryl Ann Krause, and Arianna Freeman, emphasized that constitutional defenses, including Biden’s Second Amendment argument, can be effectively reviewed on appeal after the final judgment. This ruling means that Biden’s trial will proceed as planned on June 3.

The prosecution, led by Justice Department special counsel David Weiss, pursued the indictment after a plea agreement collapsed last July. The initial agreement would have allowed Biden to avoid prison by entering a pretrial diversion program for the gun charge, potentially leading to its dismissal upon compliance. However, with the plea deal no longer in place, Biden now faces the possibility of up to 25 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Biden’s indictment includes charges of lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, making a false claim on a federal firearms background check form, and possessing an illegally obtained firearm for about 11 days. While these offenses collectively carry severe penalties, first-time offenders typically receive shorter sentences.

In his defense, Biden’s legal team has invoked a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision from last summer, New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen. This ruling introduced a two-step framework for evaluating Second Amendment challenges. Biden’s attorneys argued that federal restrictions on firearm purchases by drug users are unconstitutional, citing a lack of historical precedent for such disarmament. However, U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika disagreed, ruling that these restrictions align with the nation’s historical firearm regulations.

In addition to the Second Amendment argument, Biden’s defense previously sought dismissal of the charges on other grounds, including allegations of political pressure from Republican lawmakers. These requests were also denied by Judge Noreika.

Beyond the gun charges, Hunter Biden faces additional legal issues. His collapsed plea deal also involved pleading guilty to two misdemeanors for failing to pay taxes in 2017 and 2018. Consequently, Biden is set to stand trial on six federal tax charges in California, initially scheduled for June 20 but recently postponed to September 5 to allow his defense more preparation time.

As Hunter Biden’s legal battles continue to unfold, the outcomes of these trials will have significant repercussions not only for him but also for broader legal interpretations of firearm regulations and the enforcement of laws pertaining to individuals with drug addiction histories.