LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

PA Mom Arrested for Having Concealed Handgun in NJ

By Michael Hill
Correspondent

Twenty-seven-year-old Shaneen Allen of Philadelphia says she prayed all night for this case to go in a different direction. And finally it looks as if it will.

“I just got great news from my attorney. He called and told me that the Prosecutor’s Office and the judge sent a letter saying that they are going to look into my case and reconsider the charges. They want to look over the whole case. So that is great news to me. Right now, I can’t believe it until it actually happens,” she said.

Allen has a Pennsylvania permit to carry a gun but that permit is no good in New Jersey where she was stopped on the Atlantic City Expressway last October going to her son’s birthday party. She told the officer she had the gun and he arrested her. Prosecutors have refused to put Allen in pretrial intervention, which could result in no criminal conviction. The case was set for trial next month.

Under the Graves Act, judges must adhere to strict sentencing guidelines. It could mean prison time for Allen going to prison for several years if convicted. Allen and some state lawmakers say the law shouldn’t apply to cases like Allen’s.

“The purpose of incarceration is to protect the state. It costs us a lot of money to put someone in jail. To put someone in jail that poses absolutely no threat is an utter and complete waste of money,” said Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll.

“The criminal code was written that your actions are to be met with a certain sentence. This isn’t preventing crime at all and what are these people doing? They are ignorant in that they don’t know what the law is, they made a mistake, they have a mistake of judgment, should they be going to state prison for that? That doesn’t make any sense to me,” said attorney Michael Schreiber.

Allen says she thinks the the Atlantic County Prosecutor who has not returned our call is filling the backlash created by the perception of going light on Ray Rice for domestic violence assault verse her case.

“The director did accept me for it so what was the reason to not give it to me. I’m not a criminal and this was a mistake that I wish I never did and I would never do again. That’s the real situation with that right now that they understand that I’m not a criminal and I don’t deserve to go to prison. I think it should have been reversed in a way. The charges with me and Rice situtaion because he committed a crime and I didn’t,” she said.

Related: Asm. Dancer: Shaneen’s Law Would Give Judges Discretionary Option in Gun Cases