Hunter Biden seeks to avoid in-person court appearance on gun charges

Hunter Biden is asking not to appear in person for a court hearing on the felony gun charges prosecutors brought against him last week.

In a brief order posted on the court docket Monday night, U.S. Magistrate Judge Christopher J. Burke said President Joe Biden’s son was seeking “to have the initial appearance on the Indictment in this matter held via video conference” and noted that prosecutors opposed the request.

The order did not say how the request was presented to the judge or when the appearance might be. Burke directed Biden’s lawyers to make their request in writing in a motion Tuesday and told the government to respond in writing by Wednesday.

An attorney for Biden and a spokesperson for special counsel David Weiss did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Biden was hit with a grand jury indictment in federal court in Delaware on Thursday on three counts tied to possession of a gun while using narcotics.

Two of the counts accuse Biden of having falsely indicated on a federally mandated form that he was not using illegal drugs when he bought a Colt Cobra revolver in Delaware in October of 2018. The indictment says Biden certified “that he was not an unlawful user of, and addicted to, any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance, when in fact, as he knew, that statement was false and fictitious.”

The third count alleges he possessed a firearm while using a narcotic.

Biden was initially hit with a single gun charge in July as part of a plea deal that fell apart last month. A joint filing with prosecutors in the original case, which cannot be used in the current case, said Biden possessed the gun for 11 days at a time when “he purchased and used crack cocaine regularly.” The gun was “subsequently discarded in a trashcan outside a supermarket in Greenville, Delaware,” the filing said.

Under the terms of now-scuttled plea deal, Biden would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges in return for prosecutors recommending a sentence of probation. In a separate deal known as a diversion agreement, the felony gun charge would have been dismissed in two years if Biden stayed out of trouble.

Biden lawyer Abbe Lowell said last week that he plans to fight the charges, including by arguing they’re not constitutional.

“We believe these charges are barred by the agreement the prosecutors made with Mr. Biden, the recent rulings by several federal courts that this statute is unconstitutional, and the facts that he did not violate that law, and we plan to demonstrate all of that in court,” Lowell said.

Two of the counts in the new carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years, while the third has a maximum of five years. Each count also carries a maximum fine of $250,000.

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