By Synnove Bakke | The Save Jersey Blog
In case you haven’t heard, Save Jerseyans, Philadelphia mother Shaneen Allen is looking at mandatory prison time of minimum 3 and maximum 11 years in prison. For what crime? It’s alleged that she mistakenly entered New Jersey with a legal handgun in her possession on October 1, 2013.
The reported facts: Shaneen was pulled over for a traffic violation (unsafe lane change) and immediately informed the officer that she had that handgun in her possession; she also made it clear that she’s legally permitted to carry a concealed firearm in Pennsylvania. Shaneen was nevertheless arrested and spent 46 days behind bars. Superior Court Judge Michael Donio subsequently denied a motion by her lawyer to overturn a decision denying Allen permission to participate in a pretrial intervention program which would’ve enabled her to avoid jail time.
The fight continues. Shaneen Allen rejected a prosecutor’s offer to serve 3 1/2 years in prison. Referring to the intevention program, her attorney Evan Nappen told Fox News. “That’s exactly what should be the solution here. So we’re looking forward to that jury trial.”
A trial date has been set for Oct. 6th. Her attorney believes his client may receive more leniency from jurors. Allen purchased the gun for protection after being robbed twice in the past year, stating that she never even fired it and feels somewhat snake-bitten by the entire ordeal.
According to Nappen, potential jurors could invoke “jury nullification,” a controversial constitutional doctrine whereby jurors can acquit defendants who are technically guilty but don’t deserve to be punished due to extenuating circumstances though it has been held by some courts that attorneys are not permitted to introduce the concept to jurors. There hasn’t been a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision on point.
Shaneen isn’t without friends. The New Jersey Second Amendment Society (NJ2AS) has launched a ‘Nationwide Effort To Save Shaneen Allen from NJ’s Grotesque Gun Laws‘, asking people to contact New Jersey Attorney General John Hoffman at (609) 292-8740 and Governor Chris Christie at (609) 292-6000 and relay thatstating here is your chance to help save a young mother and her family from a grave injustice.
Assemblyman Ron Dancer (12th LD) has introduced a bill (A3608) that he believes will bring common sense to gun ownership in New Jersey.
“The sentences are mandatory. There’s no discretion with the judge or the court, no discretion, mandatory prison term,” Dancer explained to NJ 101.5.
The case involving Allen is not the first to make news. In 2009, Brian Aitken moved back to the Garden State from Colorado. Police found two handguns in his car that were legally purchased in Colorado. He was sentenced to seven years behind bars, but that term was eventually commuted by Gov. Chris Christie. Dancer’s bill would give judges the option of not sending someone like Shaneen Allen to prison in the first place if the accused individual from out of state is caught with a gun in New Jersey and meets three requirements. “Number one, the individual would have no criminal record,” says Dancer. “Number two, the individual would have no known association or affiliation with any street gangs and number three, the individual must be in compliance with its home state gun laws.”
More than that, the legislation introduced by Dancer gives judges the flexibility to either impose a mandatory sentence or have the defendant enter into a pretrial intervention program based on the convicted person’s background.
It’s not just gun rights advocates and Republican legislators speaking up; media outlets and regular folks have come to Shaneen’s defense. Over $37, 000 has been donated to Shaneen’s defense fund as of this writing.
What do you think, Save Jerseyans? Are these gun laws making us safer, or are they only hurting law abiding citizens?
You know where I stand!
I’m hoping for three possible outcomes in Shaneen’s specific case: either a jury can nullify her sentence or the Governor steps in and commutes her sentence as he did before in the 2009 case of Brian Aitken. Dancer’s law won’t necessarily take effect, if ever, in time to help Shaneen
What’s especially scary? Not every state respects or acknowledges the concealed carry permits from other states concerning concealed carry rights. Word to the wise: if you are planning on moving or traveling to another state, and you want to bring your weapon(s) with you, make sure to look into the laws of the state you are going.
I can’t offer legal advice, but here’s the NRA’s guide to transportation of firearms.