New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie today issued a pardon to Philadelphia single mother Shaneen Allen, who originally faced a three-year mandatory prison sentence for violating the state’s strict gun control laws.
As the Inquisitr previously reported, police pulled over Allen, 27, in October of 2013, 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 in Pennsylvania and had a.38 pistol in the car. She wound up being taken into custody for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Allen, a mom of two, was unaware that despite their proximity, Pennsylvania and New Jersey lacked reciprocity when it comes to gun licensing. Prosecutor Jim McClain at first refused to drop the charges against Shaneen Allen despite what was being called an honest mistake and intended to put her on trial.
Last September, perhaps owing to the public outcry, McClain, the same prosecutor who allowed Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice to enter pre-trial intervention rather than going on trial for aggravated assault, changed his mind and allowed Allen to receive the same form of leniency, which is roughly equivalent to pre-trial probation, that would have spared her further jail time if completed successfully.
“New Jersey’s strict gun laws require weapons to be stored unloaded and locked in the trunk, and so Allen was charged with unlawful possession of a firearm and spent 40 days in jail before making bail,” NJ.com reported.
Guidelines subsequently issued by the New Jersey attorney general now make legal gun owners who find themselves in the same predicament as Allen generally eligible for the diversion program instead of being locked up.
Whether the decision was motivated or not by presidential politics, Chris Christie’s pardon proclamation read as follows:
“I, Chris Christie, governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority conferred upon me by the Constitution of the State of New Jersey and the statutes of the state, do hereby grant Shaneen Denise Allen, a full and free pardon for all criminal charges and indictments arising from the arrest occurring October 1, 2013 to include the aforesaid crimes, and this order is applicable solely to said criminal charges and indictments, and to no other.”
Allen had purchased the weapon after becoming a crime victim. Christie’s pardon means Philadelphia resident Allen will not be required to complete the diversion program and can have her gun rights restored given that she now has a clean record as a matter of law.
“The program would have required her to give up her.38 caliber Bersa Thunder and complete 25 hours of community service to avoid jail time,” the Philadelphia Inquirer explained.
“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 three-to-five year sentence and make them a felon,” Evan Knappen, Allen’s lawyer, declared.
In an incident in another jurisdiction within the Garden State, a prosecutor recently decided to drop the felony gun charge brought against retired teacher Gordon Van Gilder for possession of an antique flintlock pistol that also involved a traffic stop. Van Gilder, 72, faced a similar three-to-five year minimum sentence for the violation under New Jersey gun control laws.
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