I recently represented a client charged with 2nd degree gun possession in Cape May, New Jersey. The defendant was a 19-year old college student from Pennsylvania who was vacationing with his family in Ocean City, New Jersey. He and his friend, the co-defendant, purchased airsoft guns (pellet guns) in Pennsylvania from a flea market and brought the airsoft guns on vacation with them to New Jersey. They then fired these weapons off the balcony of their vacation home at a vacant parking lot across the street from their property. They also fired the airsoft guns at a moving vehicle which turned out to be an unmarked police vehicle with uniform law enforcement officers inside. As a result, our client was charged with 2nd degree unlawful possession of a weapon which has a presumption of incarceration (even with no prior record) and a state prison range of five (5) to ten (10) years in New Jersey state prison. Unfortunately, these airsoft, pellet, and BB guns are considered firearms in New Jersey and a person must obtain a permit for same to lawfully possess them in New Jersey. Moreover, needless to say, these weapons should not be fired at people or vehicles.
My client had no prior criminal record and is enrolled in a Bible College in Pennsylvania. He volunteers with his church youth group and does community service on a regular basis. Based on his background and character, I obtained 25 letters of recommendation and character references for the defendant from pastors, church members, teachers, and family. This package was submitted to the Cape May County Prosecutor’s Office in an attempt to obtain admission into the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program. PTI is not typically available on 2nd degree charges and the Prosecutor’s office has to consent to the defendant’s application for PTI on a 2nd degree crime. Moreover, the probation department as well as the Prosecutor’s office must approve the defendant’s PTI application when considered.
Based on the defendant’s background and the package submitted to the State, the defendant was admitted into PTI for an 18 month term. At the end of his probation, the charges will be dismissed and he will have no criminal record. This was an outstanding result for the client, his family, and my firm.