Federal judge rejects Hunter Biden 'no prison time' plea deal
Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed concerns about the constitutionality and legality of a pre-trial diversion agreement, which would have allowed Hunter Biden to avoid serving time on a felony firearms possession charge by pleading guilty to two tax misdemeanor tax charges
July 26, 2023 3:17pm
Updated: July 26, 2023 3:17pm
First Son Hunter Biden's plea deal with the Delaware U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware was nixed Wednesday after the U.S. District Court judge presiding over the case said she had “concerns” about how way the negotiation was structured.
Judge Maryellen Noreika expressed concerns about the constitutionality and legality of a pre-trial diversion agreement, which would have allowed Hunter to avoid serving time on a felony firearms possession charge by pleading guilty to two tax misdemeanor tax charges.
As a result, Hunter did not accept the deal and instead pleaded not guilty. The decision temporarily sets both the government and defense on a course to trial while they both sides file briefs explaining the details of the plea deal’s structuring.
Judge Noreika is a Trump appointee who has contributed to both major political parties.
Federal prosecutors confirmed during the hearing that the president’s son is still the subject of an active investigation into whether he violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a charge the government said was not part of the proposed plea.
Hunter was expected to accept a plea to two misdemeanor tax crimes, a move that would have allowed the first son to avoid serving time. But he was also charged with felony possession of a firearm while being addicted to illegal drugs, a crime that carries up to 10 years of incarceration.
The plea deal as structured would have allowed him to enter into a pre-trial diversion program, a special path that allows defendants to avoid convictions or prison time. Such programs are usually used in less serious cases for first time offenders as a way to warn the defendant and give them a chance to correct their behavior.
As such, Republicans have raised concerns, and some conservative judicial organizations filed amicus briefs with the court, asking the judge to reject the agreement.
To support their requests, lawmakers and conservative organizations have cited new evidence of government interference in the probe.
As part of the plea, federal prosecutors approved two years of probation for Hunter Biden’s plea deal, according to CNN. Had the plea been approved, Hunter would have been released but subject to strict conditions, prohibiting him from drinking alcohol or using illegal narcotics.
The president’s son also would have faced random drug testing.
As congressional Republicans continue to complain about purported government interference to protect the Bidens amid the investigation, Noreika made clear she cannot order a new investigation.
The Justice Department’s investigation found that the president’s son earned more than $1.5 million annually in 2017 and 2018, but that he did not pay income tax either year even though he purportedly should have paid more than $100,000 in taxes.
The maximum penalty for each charge is 12 months in prison.
While federal prosecutors made the point last month that, “actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties," the negotiated plea settlement would have amounted in no time.
Wednesday would have marked the first time in history that an elected American president’s next of kin pleaded guilty to a crime.
“The proceedings Wednesday come one day after Judge Noreika threatened Hunter Biden's legal team with sanctions for making what she called "misrepresentations" after they allegedly tried to trick the court into not including an amicus brief in the case from the Republican-led House Ways and Means Committee,” according to Just the News.