Shaneen Allen, a Philadelphia single mom and nurse who is a licensed gun owner, won’t be prosecuted for a firearms violation in New Jersey. Allen faced at least three years in jail had she been convicted.
If she completes the divergence program — roughly like a form of pre-trial probation — successfully, charges will be formally dropped.
Allen reportedly obtained the concealed carry permit and purchased a handgun after being a victim of crime
Perhaps owing to the public outcry, the Atlantic County prosecutor who allowed Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice to enter pre-trial intervention rather than being put on trial for aggravated assault has changed his mind and allowed Allen to receive the same form of leniency.
Originally, prosecutor James McClain insisted on bringing the case against Allen to trial.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, last October police pulled over Allen, 27, for a routine traffic violation in nearby South Jersey on the Atlantic City Expressway. After she was stopped, Allen told the state trooper that she was a concealed carry permit holder, which she presented, and had a.38 pistol in the car. She wound up being taken in to custody for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. Allen was unaware that despite their proximity, Pennsylvania and New Jersey lacked reciprocity when it comes to gun licensing. Prosecutor and apparent gun control advocate McClain subsequently refused to drop the charges against Shaneen Allen despite what is being called an honest mistake.
The Washington Post summarized the case in July, saying, “Allen is a black single mother. She has two kids. She has no prior criminal record. Before her arrest, she worked as a phlebobotomist. After she was robbed two times in the span of about a year, she purchased the gun to protect herself and her family. There is zero evidence that Allen intended to use the gun for any other purpose. Yet Allen was arrested. She spent 40 days in jail before she was released on bail. She’s now facing a felony charge that, if convicted, would bring a three-year mandatory minimum prison term.”
In a statement yesterday, prosecutor McClain stated that he “determined that the defendant in this case should be offered the opportunity to be admitted into the Atlantic County PTI program.”
Moreover, according to some legalese issued by New Jersey’s acting Attorney General, “While ignorance of the law is not a defense, prosecutors certainly may consider whether a defendant made an honest mistake in determining the level of defendant’s culpability for purposes of sentencing. In the absence of case-specific aggravating circumstances, these defendants should not be sentenced to incarceration” under the Graves Act (the specific New Jersey gun law that would have been the source of the Shaneen Allen prosecution).
This clarification could affect about 100 cases pending against out-of-state gun owners in New Jersey.
Self-defense lawyer Andrew Branca explained on LegalInsurrection that “Shaneen Allen has, thankfully, received a reprieve… Allen is the Philadelphia-area nurse who, after being mugged in the course of the odd hours her job demands, sought and obtained a license to carry a concealed firearm. Philadelphia, of course, is only a bridge-crossing away from New Jersey, a state far more parsimonious in its recognition of our Second Amendment rights. And that’s where Ms. Allen got into trouble…
Continued Branca: “Now, most people in such circumstances who have a clean criminal record, and obviously are not engaged in criminal activity, are put by New Jersey into a pre-trial intervention program. This is precisely the same program into which the Atlantic City area prosecutor placed football player Ray Rice after a video emerged showing him knocking his wife unconscious with a single punch to the head. (This despite the fact that acts of domestic violence almost never qualify for pre-trial intervention.)… Finally, word emerged [Wednesday] that Ms. Allen will be allowed to participate in the pre-trial intervention program after all. One wonders what pressure was finally brought to bear to drive this decision, but whatever the case it is the proper result.”
Reacting to the prosecutor’s PTI offer, the attorney for Shaneen Allen noted that “We’re happy she’s not going to be destroyed by New Jersey gun laws — and that she’s going to continue to be a productive member of society… She’s absolutely gratified that she could help others like her.”