Did Hunter Biden get a 'sweetheart deal'? Here's a look at other cases - USA Trending Blog

Did Hunter Biden get a 'sweetheart deal'? Here's a look at other cases - USA Trending Blog

Did Hunter Biden get a 'sweetheart deal'? Here's a look at other cases - USA Trending Blog

Republican lawmakers have slammed Hunter Biden’s plea agreement regarding tax evasion and firearm offense charges as a “sweetheart deal,” raising questions as to whether Biden was treated equally under the law compared to other defendants.

Last month, Biden agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts of failing to pay federal income tax after a five-year investigation. He also agreed to enter a pretrial diversion program that could dismiss a felony charge regarding his unlawful possession of a Colt Cobra 38SPL revolver despite being a drug user. He will appear in court Wednesday in Wilmington, Delaware.

But the existence of a plea deal has sparked outrage among conservatives, who say the charges are too lenient.

House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer, R-KY., who is leading an investigation into Biden's business dealings in Ukraine, alleged the charges "reveal a two-tiered system of justice" in a statement last month.

"These charges against Hunter Biden and sweetheart plea deal have no impact on the Oversight Committee’s investigation," Comer wrote.

Likewise, the House Judiciary GOP tweeted that "Hunter Biden should be looking at a minimum of five years in prison. But since he’s a Biden, he gets a slap on the wrist."

Here's what legal experts say about the charges and whether it constitutes a sweetheart deal.

On Biden's unlawful possession of a firearm

Biden was charged with 18 U.S. Code § 922 (g)(3), which makes it unlawful for a user of, or someone addicted to, any controlled substance to possess a gun.

Legal experts USA Today interviewed agreed the pretrial diversion program was justified.

While the maximum sentence under the statute is 10 years in prison, prosecutors have wide discretion to defer prosecution or seek diversion programs and often do so in cases like Biden's where the offender has no criminal record, the charges are minor and the case does not involve aggravating circumstances like use of the firearm in a criminal act, according to Cheryl Bader, a former federal prosecutor who runs the Criminal Defense Clinic at Fordham Law.

I think the feds would not have been bothered with this kind of case if the subject wasn’t the president’s son,” Bader said.  “This is probably a instance where being the president’s son − and having the eyes of the nation watching − precluded Hunter Biden from flying under the radar with a 'sweetheart deal.'"

Joan Meyer, a partner at the law firm Thompson Hine, agreed, noting that while a charge related to a firearm typically is not the subject for pre-trial diversion, the fact that Biden had no criminal history and wasn’t using, or contemplating using, the gun for violence likely justified the diversion resolution. 

"My opinion is that if a prosecutor has already decided a defendant is going to get pretrial diversion on a gun charge, it is probably not worth the time and resources it takes to bring the case,” Meyer said. “It should not have taken five years to come up with that resolution.”

Although it is difficult to pinpoint a case exactly that of Biden’s, there have been similar cases where defendants have received prison time. For instance, a man in Iowa who possessed a firearm while being an illegal user of a controlled substance received almost five years in federal prison in March, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He also purchased guns for other people who couldn't lawfully obtain a gun.