Hunter Biden urges judge to dismiss gun charges

Hunter Biden to face gun charges in Wilmington court
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By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON, Delaware (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden's son Hunter asked a federal judge to dismiss criminal gun charges against him because the law is unconstitutional and government lawyers had earlier agreed not to prosecute him, his legal team said in Monday court filings.

The law used to charge Hunter Biden is likely unconstitutional under the reasoning that the U.S. Supreme Court has said should be applied when assessing limits on firearms, according to a filing in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Hunter Biden, 53, was indicted in September with lying about his drug use when he bought a firearm, becoming the first child of a sitting president to be charged with a felony. The spokeswoman for the U.S. special counsel who brought the charges did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court said in 2022 in a case known as New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen that gun restrictions must be consistent with the U.S. "historical tradition of firearm regulation."

Hunter Biden's legal team said that the framers of the U.S. Constitution were well aware of problems caused by intoxication but there is no history of preventing substance abusers from acquiring firearms.

"In truth, the statute is indefensible under the Bruen framework," said a filing by Hunter Biden's legal team.

The gun charges are separate from criminal tax charges that were filed against Hunter Biden on Thursday in federal court in California, accusing him of failing to pay $1.4 million in taxes while living a lavish lifestyle. Hunter Biden's lawyer said he repaid the taxes in full.

His legal troubles have been a lightning rod for Republicans who have made investigations of the president's son a key part of their impeachment inquiry of Joe Biden, who is a Democrat.

Hunter Biden's legal team also said the gun charges should be dismissed because U.S. Department of Justice attorneys had signed a deal in June to not prosecute if the president's son abided by a diversion program. The court filings said the "sweeping immunity" of the diversion agreement would seem to prevent the government from pursuing the tax charges as well.

The diversion agreement allowed Hunter Biden to avoid a gun charge. In return, he had to comply with several conditions for two years, including not possessing a firearm, supervision by a U.S. probation officer, abstaining from alcohol or illegal drugs and submitting to drug testing.

That agreement, which Hunter Biden's attorneys said he continues to comply with, unraveled after U.S. District Court Judge Maryellen Noreika in Wilmington questioned it at a July hearing.

Following the collapse of the diversion agreement, U.S. Special Counsel David Weiss charged Hunter Biden with three criminal counts related to lying about his use of illegal drugs when he purchased a Colt Cobra handgun in 2018. Users of narcotics are banned from owning a firearm under a gun law.

Hunter Biden's legal team also said Weiss was unlawfully appointed and therefore the prosecution was not legally authorized.

The gun charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 and three years of supervised release.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)