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Help a sister out

July 29, 2014

This post has been updated twice; see below.

Shaneen Allen has a funding campaign for her legal defense.

About This Campaign

Despite the fact that Shaneen Allen possesses a License to Carry Firearms issued by the City of Philadelphia…

Despite the fact that Allen has been trained in firearm safety and passed an NRA handgun safety course…

Despite the fact that Allen voluntarily presented her carry license to the police in conjunction with a routine traffic stop, as per her training…

New Jersey is doing its best to turn Shaneen Allen into a convicted felon facing a State Prison term of a minimum-mandatory 3-5 years with no chance of parole.

What heinous offense did Shaneen Allen — a hard-working single mother of two, with no prior criminal record — do to deserve such a fate? Last October, she travelled with her Pennsylvania licensed handgun loaded with lawfully purchased, low penetration self defense ammunition, into New Jersey.

That is all.

From what I’ve read, she sounds like the victim of an overzealous (or maybe just thoughtless) prosecutor.

Radley Balko wrote about Ms Allen last week:

Shaneen Allen, race and gun control

Last October, Shaneen Allen, 27, was pulled over in Atlantic County, N.J. The officer who pulled her over says she made an unsafe lane change. During the stop, Allen informed the officer that she was a resident of Pennsylvania and had a conceal carry permit in her home state. She also had a handgun in her car. Had she been in Pennsylvania, having the gun in the car would have been perfectly legal. But Allen was pulled over in New Jersey, home to some of the strictest gun control laws in the United States.

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. […]

And this part comes from a recent National Review editorial (with my emphasis):

A single mother of two young children, Allen works more than one job and as a result leaves her home at odd times of the day. After two robberies made her aware of her vulnerability, she became convinced that she should be prepared to defend herself and her family, and resolved to do something about it. Which is to say that Allen bought her firearm, and obtained her concealed-carry permit, not to commit crimes but to prevent them. This has failed to move the prosecutor, Jim McClain, an overzealous man who has routinely declined to use the considerable latitude with which he has been entrusted by the state.

Under New Jersey’s rules, McClain could have declined to press any charges against Allen, recognizing that she was guilty of little more than an innocent mistake. He could have treated it as merely a misdemeanor and sent her to municipal court. He could have permitted her to enroll in one of the diversionary programs that New Jersey has established for peaceful first-time offenders, thereby sparing her both the prison time that will take her away from her children and the felony conviction that will almost certainly destroy her career in medical work. Instead, he has sought punishment to the fullest extent of the law: in this instance, a three-year mandatory minimum jail sentence for illegal possession of a firearm, and an extra year or more for possession of illegal ammunition. This is a travesty of justice.


Update:

Radley Balko has another column about Ms Allen’s case.

Prosecution of Shaneen Allen moves forward

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Shaneen Allen, a single mother from Philadelphia who was arrested for driving through New Jersey with a handgun. Allen had a permit for her gun in Pennsylvania, but New Jersey doesn’t recognize Pennsylvania gun permits. […]

Now, New Jersey Judge Michael Donio has denied Allen’s request to have the charge dismissed.

The words common sense were mentioned quite a bit during Shaneen Allen’s hearing yesterday in Atlantic County Superior Court.

Allen, 27, cried for a moment in the hallway with her son Naiare and his father after a judge denied her motion to dismiss weapons charges filed against her in October and refused to overturn a prosecutor’s decision to deny her entry into a first-time-offender diversion program.

So Allen walked back into court, turned down a plea deal that would have given her a 3 1/2-year sentence and decided to go to trial in October, hoping a jury would use some common sense and not send a working mother of two to prison for not knowing New Jersey’s gun laws.

Let’s hope Ms Allen gets a jury that uses its common sense.


Update 2:
She avoids a trial and possible jail time (via Hit & Run).

Shaneen Allen to be admitted into pretrial intervention

A Philadelphia mother facing prison time for bringing her legally registered gun into New Jersey will be allowed into a diversion program, after the attorney general clarified a directive that had expanded New Jersey’s gun law.
Shaneen Allen was arrested last year after a motor vehicle stop on the Atlantic City Expressway in Hamilton Township. She told the state trooper that she had her loaded gun and a concealed carry permit with her.

The single mother of two said she didn’t realize that the permit did not cross state lines. New Jersey does not allow the average citizen to have concealed weapons, even if they are legally registered.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain originally denied Allen pretrial intervention because he said a 2008 directive that expanded the state’s Graves Act did not allow for an exception.

But the attorney general released a clarification to the state’s county prosecutors Wednesday with respect to out-of-state visitors from states where their gun possession would be legal.

“In most of these cases, imprisonment is neither necessary nor appropriate to serve the interests of justice and protect public safety,” acting Attorney General John Hoffman wrote.

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