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Hunter Biden, the president’s son, was convicted on Tuesday of three felonies: lying to a federally licensed gun dealer, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail; making a false claim on the federal firearms application used to screen applicants, with a sentence of up to five years; and possession of an illegally obtained gun from Oct. 12-23, 2018, which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years.

The crimes stem from the purchase of a handgun by Mr. Biden at one of the low points of his troubled life. He had been addicted to crack cocaine, bouncing in and out of rehab, was divorced, using prostitutes and having money problems. The New York Times reported last year that Mr. Biden later recounted to friends going into the gun store on a whim and buying the .38 because he thought spending time at a shooting range would help him avoid using drugs.

In purchasing the gun, Mr. Biden had to fill out a form for a federal background check. In response to a question on the form about whether he was using drugs, Mr. Biden said he was not — an assertion that prosecutors successfully persuaded the jury was false.

The first two crimes are essentially the same — that he lied about his drug use to illegally obtain the weapon, and that he falsely claimed that he was not “addicted to any stimulant, narcotic drug, and any other controlled substance” on the federal form, known as a 4473.

The third conviction, illegal possession of the gun while under the influence of drugs, stems from the time he had the weapon. Hallie Biden, his brother Beau’s widow — and his romantic partner at the time — eventually discovered the gun and threw it into a dumpster.

The section of federal law cited in the indictment, 18 U.S. Code § 922, is the main statute used to define who can and cannot possess a firearm. It bars drug users, people convicted of felonies whose punishment exceeds a one-year prison sentence, fugitives from justice, people judged to be “mentally defective,” and those receiving dishonorable discharges from the military.



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