Hunter Biden, who has no prior criminal history, has reached a plea deal that would avoid jail time for a gun-related charge. Some conservative commentators claim the president’s son is getting special treatment, misleadingly equating his case with one involving a rapper who had a criminal record before getting a 46-month sentence for two gun-related charges.
A 26-year-old South Florida rapper who goes by the name Kodak Black has a criminal record that started in his teens.
Black, who is identified in court documents under the names Dieuson Octave and Bill K. Kapri, spent time in juvenile detention after “he started robbing as a way to provide for himself and his family,” according to the bio on his old website.
There’s a robbery charge from 2015 (he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation), a sexual assault charge from 2016 (he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of assault and battery), and a gun possession by a delinquent charge from 2016 (he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation).
In 2019, Black was charged with two counts of making a false statement while trying to purchase guns, which is a crime under the same federal statute (but a different section) that recently was used in charging Hunter Biden. Black had lied twice on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives forms required to purchase a gun, claiming that he hadn’t been charged with a felony when, in fact, he had, making it a violation of federal law to possess a gun and have it shipped across state lines.
Biden was charged on June 20 with unlawful possession of a firearm. When he purchased a revolver in 2018, Biden had answered “No” to a question about drug use and addiction on the ATF form. But prosecutors alleged that he was, in fact, addicted to illegal drugs.
Black pleaded guilty and received a sentence of three years and 10 months, which included a sentencing enhancement because the guns involved were semi-automatic firearms capable of accepting large-capacity magazines and because he had a prior felony conviction for a violent crime (that was the 2015 robbery case in Florida). That sentencing increase was upheld by an appeals court, but his total sentence was still lower than the maximum, which was 10 years.
Black ended up serving a year and nine months, though, because former President Donald Trump commuted his sentence in a flurry of grants of clemency in the last days of his term. Black’s lawyer, Bradford Cohen, was a contestant on Trump’s reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” in 2004 and later became a vocal supporter of Trump as a politician.
Biden, who has no prior criminal history, has reached a plea agreement with prosecutors that would allow him to avoid prosecution on his gun charge through a pretrial diversion agreement that requires him to stay drug-free and not own a gun. A judge will have to approve of the plea agreement, though. The maximum sentence for the gun charge is 10 years.
Some conservative commentators have been comparing the outcome of Black’s case to Biden’s, suggesting that Biden is getting special treatment because he’s the president’s son.
Benny Johnson, for example, claimed in a Facebook video that Black “had to go serve five years in jail for the exact same thing that Hunter Biden was charged with.”
But, as we explained, he didn’t serve five years. Also, more importantly, the charges aren’t exactly the same and the circumstances in each case were different.
The Wall Street Journal looked at more than 100 cases that involved the same charge as Biden’s to see if he was treated differently. What they found was that few cases were comparable to Biden’s since many of the other defendants were also charged with drug-trafficking or drug possession. In the few cases in which a defendant was charged with a single firearm offense, as Biden was, the Journal said other factors, including previous criminal history, were involved.
So, the circumstances for Black and Biden are so different that the outcome for their cases can’t be compared.
Update, Sept. 19: Federal prosecutors charged Biden on Sept. 14 with three counts related to his purchase and possession of a Colt Cobra revolver. Biden is charged with lying about his drug use in order to purchase the gun in 2018, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison; lying about his drug use on a form that would be kept by the dealer, which carries a maximum penalty of five years; and possession of a firearm while using illegal drugs, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
Biography. Kodak Black. kodak-world.com via the Internet Archive. 1 Nov 2015.
Kapri, Bill. Criminal record, Broward County, FL. Accessed 29 Jun 2023.
South Carolina v. Dieuson Octave. Florence County, Twelfth Judicial Circuit. 28 Apr 2021.
18 U.S. Code § 922. Cornell Law School, Legal Information Institute. Accessed 30 Jun 2023.
U.S. v. Robert Hunter Biden. Information. 20 Jun 2023.
U.S. v. Bill Kapri. Judgment. 18 Nov 2019.
U.S. v. Bill Kapri. Motion for Permission to Travel. 16 Feb 2021.
Trump, Donald. Executive Grant of Clemency. 19 Jan 2021.
Johnson, Carrie. “Hunter Biden agrees to plead guilty in tax case and avoid prosecution on gun charge.” NPR. 20 Jun 2023.
Tau, Byron, C. Ryan Barber and Sadie Gurman. “Did Hunter Biden Get a Sweetheart Deal? Prosecutors Weigh In.” Wall Street Journal. 25 Jun 2023.