Allen is now planning on going to trial, which is scheduled for October 6th. Her attorney, Evan Nappen, has indicatedthat Allen plans to make a defense based on ignorance or mistake of law.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Judge Michael Donio declined to dismiss a case for unlawful possession of a firearm against Philadelphia resident Shaneen Allen. Allen was arrested during a traffic stop last October after she volunteered to the officer that she had a firearm in her car. She mistakenly believed her Pennsylvania license to carry firearms was valid in New Jersey. This was hardly an unreasonable assumption, considering that Pennsylvania concealed carry licensees can lawfully carry in over 30 other states.
Nevertheless, Judge Donio sided with prosecutors in deciding that Allen was not covered by a 180-day gun amnesty period for the surrender of firearms in New Jersey that happened to be occurring at the time of her arrest. The judge also refused to overrule the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s decision to deny Allen a pre-trial intervention program that could have helped her avoid a criminal conviction.
New Jersey offers first-time offenders the opportunity to avoid criminal adjudications through the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). The stated purpose of PTI is to “render early rehabilitative services, when such services can reasonably be expected to deter future criminal behavior.” Allen is a 27-year-old mother of two with no criminal record who was employed as a healthcare worker at the time of her arrest. She obtained her concealed carry permit after she herself was twice the victim of robbery. The Atlantic County prosecutor has not alleged Allen possessed the firearm for criminal purposes or with evil intent. Indeed, the Atlantic County PTI Director agreed to accept Allen into the PTI program.