In a move that will avoid a public trial and potential prison time, Robert “Hunter” Biden, the wayward son of President Joe Biden, has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of willful failure to pay income taxes on over $3 million and agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program for a third count of illegal possession of a handgun by an unlawful user of illegal drugs.
Although the written terms of the agreement have not been published, according to news sources, in exchange for Biden’s acceptance of responsibility on the tax and gun charges, the Justice Department will ask for probation instead of prison.
Under the law, the tax charges are misdemeanors with a maximum fine of up to $25,000 and a year in prison for each count. The gun count is a felony with a maximum possible sentence of 15 years. However, since Biden is not considered a violent felon, he was offered a pretrial diversionary program. If he completes that program successfully, it is likely the government will dismiss that charge.
The plea arrangement will be presented to a federal district court judge in the near future. If the judge decides to accept the plea (he can reject it, but that is highly unlikely), Biden will enter pleas of guilty and accept diversion on the firearms charge. The judge will also listen to the parties with respect to sentencing and impose a sentence. He is not bound by the parties’ sentencing recommendations, although in a case where both parties are asking for probation, he is likely to go along with the parties’ joint request.
If the judge sentences Biden to probation, he must comply with the terms of probation for the duration of the probationary period. If he violates the terms, such as by committing new violations of the law, the Justice Department would have the right to request that his probation be revoked and he be brought back before the court for imposition of punishment, including prison.
The U.S. attorney for the District of Delaware, the federal prosecutor handling the case, said that the investigation of Hunter Biden is “ongoing,” which could mean that he, or other components of the Justice Department, are continuing to investigate Biden (and perhaps others) in matters not directly related to these tax and gun charges.
Charles “Cully” Stimson is a leading expert in national security, homeland security, crime control, immigration, and drug policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. This first appeared in the Daily Signal.