Mr. Biden faces up to 25 years in prison, up to 9 years of supervised release after imprisonment, and fines of up to $750,000 if convicted.
Judge Burke, appointed by other judges, presided over the hearing.
The judge read all three charges, the penalties for each, and Mr. Biden's rights. He set typical pretrial release conditions, including a prohibition against possessing a gun and using alcohol.
Judge Burke also set a Nov. 3 deadline for motions during the approximately 20-minute hearing. Defense lawyers requested an evidentiary hearing.
The judge at one point said that Mr. Biden has tested negative on several drug tests conducted since July.
Mr. Biden's attorney, Abbe Lowell, said previously that Mr. Biden “possessing an unloaded gun for 11 days was not a threat to public safety, but a prosecutor, with all the power imaginable, bending to political pressure presents a grave threat to our system of justice.”
ChargesMr. Biden lied on a federal form in 2018 when buying a Colt Cobra revolver when he said he was not a user of any illegal drugs, according to charging documents. He then illegally possessed the gun despite being a drug user.
Mr. Biden was preparing to move forward with a plea deal that would see him plead guilty to two misdemeanor tax charges and enter a pretrial diversion agreement for one felony gun charge, but that deal was scuttled under questioning by a federal judge.
Special counsel David Weiss then presented the three felony charges to a grand jury, which recently approved them.
In a statement signed by Mr. Biden that was part of a scuttled agreement, Mr. Biden said he began using cocaine in 2016 and became a "habitual user" the following year. Mr. Biden "frequently and regularly" used the illegal drug through about May 2019, according to the statement.
The statement also said Mr. Biden bought a gun on Oct. 12, 2018, from a federally licensed dealer in Wilmington and falsely certified on the purchase form that he was not a user of, or addicted to, any illegal drugs. It also said Mr. Biden possessed the gun from Oct. 12 to Oct. 23, 2018, even though he was using crack cocaine regularly during that time.
The gun was discovered in Mr. Biden's vehicle with "drug remnants and paraphernalia" on Oct. 23, 2018, and subsequently thrown out in a trashcan outside a grocery store in Greenville, Delaware, according to Mr. Biden.
Mr. Biden also recounted his years of drug addiction in his autobiography, which was published in 2021.
“I’ve bought crack cocaine on the streets of Washington, D.C., and cooked up my own inside a hotel bungalow in Los Angeles," he wrote. "I’ve been so desperate for a drink that I couldn’t make the one-block walk between a liquor store and my apartment without uncapping the bottle to take a swig."
At one point, "I was smoking crack every 15 minutes," he also wrote.
Mr. Biden said in 2019, he was kicked out of the hotel at which he was living, went on to rehab, and eventually stopped using.
Mr. Biden credited meeting Melissa Cohen, whom he later married, with helping him become sober.
Some outside lawyers have said that lying on the federal form is a felony and would be hard to defend given his autobiography.
The law is clear that lying on the form is a felony, Mr. Stamboulieh and William Kirk of the Seattle-based Cowan Kirk Law Firm said.
The White House has said President Biden will not pardon Mr. Biden, or commute his sentence, if he's convicted.
The tax charges have since been dismissed at the request of Mr. Weiss, who said absent the plea deal they were filed in the wrong venue. He said he expects to file them again elsewhere.
Mr. Weiss previously tried bringing the charges in California and Washington, according to IRS whistleblowers, but was turned down. That was before he was made special counsel by Attorney General Merrick Garland.