Hunter Biden, the son of US President Joe Biden, and his wife Melissa Cohen Biden arrive at the courthouse

Wilmington (United States) (AFP) - Jury deliberations began on Monday in the trial of Hunter Biden on federal gun charges, a historic first criminal prosecution of the child of a sitting US president.

Hunter Biden, 54, the son of President Joe Biden, is accused of lying about his illegal drug use when he bought a handgun in 2018, a felony.

His trial comes as his father is seeking reelection, and less than two weeks after the conviction on business fraud charges of Donald Trump, the likely Republican presidential nominee in November.

The 12-member jury began deliberations after prosecutors and Hunter Biden’s defense team presented their closing arguments.

The jury met for about an hour before concluding their deliberations for the day, CNN and other US media reported. They will return at 9:00 am on Tuesday.

Hunter Biden did not take the stand during the one-week trial held in the Biden hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

First Lady Jill Biden attended several days of the trial including Monday’s court session. The president did not attend but said he and Jill were “proud” of their son.

“As the President, I don’t and won’t comment on pending federal cases, but as a Dad, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him, and respect for his strength,” Biden said in a statement.

The proceedings, along with another case in which Hunter Biden faces tax evasion charges in California, have complicated Democrats’ efforts to keep the focus on Trump, the first former president ever to be convicted of a crime.

- Drug addiction -

In addition to being a political distraction, Hunter Biden’s legal woes have reopened painful emotional wounds for the family from his time as a drug addict.

First Lady Jill Biden arrives for the trial of Hunter Biden on felony gun charges

His brother Beau died from cancer in 2015, and his sister Naomi died as an infant in a 1972 car crash that also killed their mother, Neilia, Joe Biden’s first wife.

The Yale-trained lawyer and lobbyist-turned-artist is charged with falsely stating when buying a .38 caliber revolver in 2018 that he was not using drugs illegally.

He is also charged with illegal possession of the firearm, which he had for just 11 days in October of that year.

The president’s son, who has written unsparingly about his addiction, claimed that at the time he bought the revolver he did not consider himself to be an addict.

Among those testifying during the trial were Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, his brother Beau’s widow Hallie Biden and his daughter, Naomi Biden.

If found guilty, Hunter Biden could face 25 years in prison, although as a first-time offender jail time is unlikely.

Hunter Biden has long been the target of hard-right Republicans, and Trump allies have investigated him at length in Congress on allegations of corruption and influence-peddling. No charges have ever been brought.

Hunter Biden’s business dealings in China and Ukraine have also formed the basis for attempts by Republican lawmakers to initiate impeachment proceedings against his father. Those efforts too have gone nowhere.

The White House has said there would be no presidential pardon for Hunter Biden in case of a conviction.