Updated Oct 3, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Hunter Biden pleads not guilty to federal gun charges

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, departs the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26, 2023 in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hunter Biden departs the J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building and United States Courthouse on July 26 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Hunter Biden pleaded not guilty Tuesday in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware to three counts related to his alleged illegal possession of a firearm, his lawyer said.

Why it matters: The three felony counts that the president's son is facing could carry a combined maximum sentence of 25 years in prison, the judge said Tuesday.

  • He is accused of falsifying a federal firearms form and illegal possession of a firearm while using a narcotic, per an indictment last month.

State of play: Biden nearly avoided a trial, but his plea agreement reached an impasse during a contentious July court hearing. His defense team and prosecutors couldn't agree on whether the arrangement granted him immunity from other charges.

  • The deal included probation for a guilty plea to two tax misdemeanors, and a diversionary agreement on a gun-related felony for owning a weapon while using drugs.
  • Biden's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in court on Tuesday that he would likely file several motions in the case in the coming weeks.
  • Lowell said he may challenge the constitutionality of the gun provisions and file a motion to dismiss the case, given that Biden's team has argued the original diversion agreement on the gun felony charge remains in effect.

What they're saying: Lowell slammed the charges in a statement on Tuesday, saying they 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."

Zoom in: Hunter was joined in court on Tuesday by his attorneys, but his original lead defense lawyer, Chris Clark, was not present.

  • Special counsel David Weiss, who was appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland in August, was not present in court on Tuesday.

Catch up quick: Lowell had indicated that Biden would plead not guilty to the charges.

  • Lowell, who had been handling Biden’s response to House Republican investigations, was brought on in August to also handle Biden's response to the DOJ investigation after his plea deal collapsed.
  • "The evidence in this matter has not changed in the last six weeks, but the law has and so has MAGA Republicans' improper and partisan interference in this process," Lowell said after the indictment.

Between the lines: Republicans have sought to tie President Biden to his son's alleged wrongdoing as he campaigns for re-election.

Go deeper: Hunter Biden sues Rudy Giuliani over hard drive data

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional reporting from Tuesday's hearing.

Go deeper