On October 1, 2013, Shaneen Allen was pulled over in New Jersey for making an unsafe lane change.
Allen, who is a resident of Pennsylvania, is a concealed carry permit holder and had a lawfully registered gun with her at the time of the traffic stop.
She voluntarily told the officer about her gun and permit…and was arrested.
Allen explained that she wasn’t aware she couldn’t bring her legally-owned gun to NJ, but she was jailed for 46 days anyway.
She faced serious charges.
From New Jersey Law Journal:
Her lawyer, Eatontown, N.J.-based solo Evan Nappen, said that Allen, if convicted, could have been sentenced to prison for as long as 10 years and would have had to spend at least three-and-a-half years behind bars under New Jersey’s Graves Act, which sets mandatory minimum jail time for gun-related crimes, including unlawful simple possession.
Allen’s case got a lot of attention because the prosecutor, James McClain, denied her pretrial intervention (PTI), which NJ offers in some first-time offense cases. PTI defers prosecution for a period, usually a year, after which the charges are dropped if the defendant has complied with specified conditions such as community service, restitution, and drug testing and treatment.
McClain was the prosecutor who dropped the aggravated assault charges against NFL “star” Ray Rice and allowed him to enter a PTI program…even though he was caught on camera knocking out his wife in an Atlantic City casino elevator.
That’s right: Allen, a responsible gun owner who was unaware of gun laws in a state in which she did not reside – a victimless crime – was not going to be granted any kind of leniency.
But a football player who was caught on tape committing domestic violence got a pass.
Thankfully, gun-law advocates and anti-domestic violence groups took notice, and last September, Allen was granted PTI, which saved her from a mandatory 3-year prison sentence.
Yesterday, Allen was given more good news: NJ Governor Chris Christie granted her a “full and free pardon for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest.”
Allen’s case also led to changes in how the law she was being prosecuted for breaking will be applied, reports NJ.com:
Her attorney, Evan Nappen, of Eatontown, said the Allen case lead to the Office of the Attorney General issuing new guidelines that allow people who are legally entitled to carry firearms in their home states to enter diversionary programs instead of heading directly to a Garden State prison if charged with violating state law.
“It was quite a fight for her down there in Atlantic County, and it led to significant changes,” Nappen said. “Hundreds of folks were helped by her case…It’s a little absurd to take someone who’s a law abiding citizen in their home state but then put them into a New Jersey state prison for a mandatory 3 to 5 year sentence and make them a felon.”
Nappen told The Inquirer that while the case was unfortunate for his client – whose plight motivated individuals from across the country to contribute tens of thousands of dollars to a defense fund – it pushed the review of nearly 100 similar cases pending in New Jersey and elsewhere.
“Hundreds of folks were helped by her case,” Nappen said, calling the matter “absurd.”
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