Hunter Biden is expected to make his first court appearance on federal tax charges on Thursday, six months after the collapse of a deal that would have ended the case.

Last month, a federal grand jury in California charged Mr. Biden, President Biden’s son, with evasion of a tax assessment, failure to file and pay taxes, and filing a false or fraudulent tax return. The charges, detailed in a scathing 56-page indictment, chronicled his years of drug abuse, debauchery, wild spending and flouting of federal tax laws.

The hearing in Los Angeles federal court is expected to be short and perfunctory, dealing with scheduling matters and paperwork deadlines. But in a somewhat unusual move, it will be overseen by Mark C. Scarsi, a Trump-appointed federal judge who is likely to preside over a trial, rather than a magistrate temporarily assigned to manage intake proceedings.

The case, coupled with a barrage of unsubstantiated charges that the president benefited financially from his son’s consulting work on behalf of businesses in Ukraine, China and Romania, is at the core of Republican efforts to impeach President Biden.

But Hunter Biden’s troubles have taken on a life of their own, presenting a significant political problem to his father in an election year. The actual crimes he has thus far been accused of are typically resolved in plea deals that result in probation or brief prison sentences, according to current and former federal prosecutors.

Television crews were already setting up outside the courthouse downtown on Wednesday night as Mr. Biden flew back to his home in California with his lawyer Abbe Lowell after showing up unexpectedly at a Republican hearing into claims he has defied a congressional subpoena.

The move, intended to prove that Mr. Biden was willing to testify, ended in chaos with Mr. Biden abruptly leaving as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, began haranguing him. He was trailed by reporters, including one who asked about his drug use.

Hunter Biden’s indictment on tax charges and an earlier indictment on a gun charge brought in Delaware in September were not the outcomes David C. Weiss, the special counsel overseeing the case, or Mr. Biden, expected.

A deal reached last June that would have granted Mr. Biden broad immunity from future prosecution imploded under intense questioning from a federal judge in Wilmington in late July. The collapse of the deal prompted Mr. Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware, to request appointment as special counsel to have access to resources sufficient to bring two cases outside his original jurisdiction.

The hard-edge tone of the tax indictment also reflects the arrival over the summer of a new deputy to Mr. Weiss’s team, Leo Wise, a former federal prosecutor in Baltimore who has grilled witnesses before the grand jury in Southern California investigating Mr. Biden’s foreign business dealings and tax charges, according to people familiar with the situation.

It remains unclear whether the tax indictment will be the end of Mr. Biden’s legal woes. During a hearing in Delaware in July over the terms of the plea deal, Mr. Wise told the judge that prosecutors were still investigating the case and had not ruled out bringing charges connected to Mr. Biden’s overseas consulting work under a law related to foreign lobbying.

Mr. Biden “engaged in a four-year scheme to not pay at least $1.4 million in self-assessed federal taxes he owed for tax years 2016 through 2019,” Mr. Weiss, who was appointed by President Donald J. Trump, wrote in the indictment.

“Between 2016 and Oct. 15, 2020, the defendant spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes,” he added.

If convicted, Mr. Biden could face a maximum of 17 years in prison, Justice Department officials said.

In reality, few defendants — especially those like Mr. Biden who have already paid their back taxes and penalties — are subjected to such stiff sentences. Former federal prosecutors said that the steep back-tax bill accrued by Mr. Biden was a compelling factor to bring the case to trial, but that many similar cases resulted in plea deals to avoid the challenging work of presenting the evidence to a jury.

“While it’s certainly not rare, the Biden case doesn’t necessarily fall into the typical category of tax prosecutions,” said Christopher Hotaling, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago who oversaw numerous tax and fraud cases.

Another factor that could complicate Mr. Biden’s prosecution in California, and prod prosecutors to negotiate another plea agreement, is the general antipathy jurors have shown toward tax prosecutions in general — and cases brought against people whose misdeeds took place at a time when they were struggling with emotional problems or substance abuse.

In an interview with Republican investigators in the House last year, Matthew Graves, the Biden-appointed U.S. attorney in Washington, cited those factors in explaining why he opted not to join with Mr. Weiss on a tax prosecution of Mr. Biden last year.

“You’re always worried in these kinds of cases, where no one was actually hurt, about juror nullification, and you have to guard against that, just because they feel bad for the defendant,” Mr. Graves said, according to a transcript of the interview.

Jurors, he added, tend to be sympathetic to defendants who are “going through some kind of trauma” or when “there is documented evidence of substance abuse.”

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