The son of United States President Joe Biden, Hunter Biden, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to three felony charges of illegally possessing a handgun in 2018, when he was addicted to drugs.
The 53-year-old lawyer and artist appeared in person in a federal court in Wilmington, Delaware, his family hometown, and did not speak to reporters.
He is accused of lying on forms required to buy a .38-caliber Colt Cobra revolver, claiming that he was not using drugs illegally at the time. He is also charged with illegally possessing the gun, which he had for only 11 days in October 2018 before he disposed of it.
AFP reported that the gun charges are the latest chapter in Hunter Biden’s troubled life, which has also been marred by controversies over his foreign business dealings in Ukraine and China while his father was vice president under Barack Obama.
Republicans have launched an impeachment inquiry in Congress against the president, alleging a Biden family criminal conspiracy, but have not provided any evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
Joe Biden has repeatedly said he stands by his son and loves him for his attempts to recover from drug addiction.
Hunter Biden’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, had asked Judge Christopher Burke to allow Hunter Biden, who lives in California, to appear by video instead of in person, but the request was denied.
“The defendant should not receive any special treatment in this matter,” Burke wrote in his ruling.
If convicted, Hunter Biden could face up to 25 years in prison, though such offenses are rarely punished by jail time.
In July, a plea deal between Hunter Biden and federal prosecutor David Weiss, which would have dropped the gun charges while Hunter Biden pleaded guilty to two tax charges and avoided prison, fell apart.
Weiss, who was appointed as special counsel for the Hunter Biden probe after the plea deal collapsed, says he is still investigating Hunter Biden on possible tax charges in addition to the gun possession issue.
Hunter Biden has not been charged with any crimes related to his foreign business dealings, despite the Republican allegations.