By Michael Hill
“Mommy is free.”
Twenty-seven-year-old Shaneen Allen and her oldest son in a small celebration of a big victory.
“I’m so happy this is over. No more not knowing. No more court dates,” Allen said.
A judge has allowed Allen to enter a pretrial intervention program, avoiding trial and more.
“I’m very happy that we got the results we did today. Shaneen does not become a convicted criminal, she does not go to prison, she stays with her kids, she can maintain her career as a medical technician,” said attorney Evan Nappen.
For Nappen, Allen and her donors and supporters, this never should have come to this.
Allen lives in Philadelphia and has a Pennsylvania permit to own and carry a gun.
Last October, she drove to New Jersey for her 3-year-old son’s birthday party. Police stopped her on the Atlantic City Expressway for failure to maintain lanes.
Allen followed her training and volunteered she had her gun and permit. The officer arrested her, launching a legal odyssey and a perceived salvo at the gun rights lobby.
“I think people have forgotten that it is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. We can make a difference. We have to be engaged. We can’t make a difference by sitting on the couch watching tv. We ahve to react when there is a situation like this and it is an injustice,” said NJ Second Amendment Society President Frank Fiamingo.
Shaneen was approved for PTI then denied so New Jersey could teach out of state gun owners the consequences of illegally carrying a weapon in New Jersey. Then the Ray Rice knock out video hit the world like a ton of bricks. Observers compared Rice getting PTI to Shaneen being denied, facing trial and if convicted, prison time because New Jersey’s Graves Act takes sentencing discretion away from judges in such cases.
“PTI really should be available to in New Jersey out of New Jersey citizens. It should apply to everyone,” said defense attorney Michael Schreiber.
But on Wednesday, the Atlantic County Prosecutor John McClain wrote he had determined that the defendant in this case could be offered the opportunity to be admitted to into the Atlantic County PTI program.
His decision followed the state attorney general’s review of the impact and implementation of the Graves Act and John Hoffman wrote “consistent with the manner in which the vast majority of these cases have been handled throughout the state, this memorandum provides that in the absence of case-specific aggravating circumstances, these defendants should not be sentenced to incarceration.
And then called for a review of pending cases.
“I look at it like I didn’t have a choice. If I would have taken the deal of three and a half years, it would be saying I did something wrong and I am coping out,” said Allen.
For now, Allen thanks her countless supporters.