Many of the laws currently on the books were drawn up years ago, and today have unintended, undesirable effects. Mandatory minimum sentencing laws, for example, often target honest individuals who might have made simple mistakes, while criminal laws should in fact be designed to obstruct deliberately criminal behavior.
In late 2011, a 27-year-old mother of two (in the photograph to the right) was pulled over in New Jersey during a routine traffic stop. Instead of being given a ticket, the young woman was arrested for and charged with unlawful posession of a firearm and bullets. Now, she faces mandatory prison time. Here’s the problem: the gun she was arrested for carrying was legal, licensed, and registered.
Our Palm Beach and Broward County criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert have been following the case of Shaneen Allen, the single mother caught in the web of an antiquated criminal justice system. Her trial, which begins on August 5th, will allow her to fight for her rights as an honest, hard-working individual who has fallen victim to illogical and ineffective laws.
Roughly three years ago, during what should have been a standard traffic stop, when the police officer approached her, Ms. Allen voluntarily disclosed to the officer that she had a registered, licensed handgun in her vehicle, and handed the officer her carry permit. The officer, however, informed Ms. Allen that although the firearm was purchased, licensed, registered and legal in Pennsylvania, the documentation was invalid in the state in which she was pulled over: New Jersey. So, instead of handling the situation in a more understanding fashion, the officer handcuffed her and arrested her for unlawful possession of a weapon in the presence of her two young boys.
All of this might conceivably make sense if the woman were a hardened criminal, a repeat-offender who was simply hoping to get away with gun possession on a mere technicality. But as our criminal defense lawyers know, his woman is an honest, respectful, upstanding citizen, whose entire “rap sheet” consists of a minor traffic violation. This case is really one of an innocent woman facing three years of prison without the possibility of parole all because of a technicality.
Pennsylvania’s gun carry permit is not some unrespected, flimsy piece of paperwork; the permit is accepted in the majority of states in the country. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, New Jersey has a problem with it’s neighbors gun carry permits and does not recognize their validity.
Essentially, it appears that some bureacratic dispute between NJ and PA has resulted in Shaneen Allen facing prison and her boys facing adolescence without a mother.
One week from tomorrow, on August 5th, Shaneen Allen’s trial will start. Our criminal defense lawyers hope desperately that Ms. Allen’s attorney can articulate to the presiding judge and jury why a conviction of Ms. Allen (and the implementation of the accompanying mandatory minimum prison sentence) would be unjustifiably harsh. Sending Ms. Allen away from her two young boys to prison for three years would do nothing to curb her non-existent criminally-driven behavior, as is the alleged point of prison time. A dismissal of charges, perhaps with the requirement that Ms. Allen attend a gun laws class, seem far more fitting.
Our criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert will keep you abreast of any developments regarding this case. In the meantime, if you are arrested for or charged with a crime in Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade County, please contact us immediately for a private, free, legal consultation to discuss your options. You can reach us by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363). We look forward to assisting you.