On June 5, 2017, in the case of State v. Dasean Harper, Chief Justice Rabner wrote for a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court. The Legislature passed an amnesty bill in 2013 that, “for a period of not more than 180 days from the effective date of the act,” enabled people to dispose of guns they possessed illegally. During that time, the law allowed individuals to transfer or voluntarily surrender firearms. The Court now considers whether the law effectively created a nearly six-month grace period from prosecution for the illegal possession of firearms. It seems clear that no such grace period existed as it would have provided a perverse incentive for individuals to carry dangerous firearms in public with impunity.
On November 29, 2013, a police officer saw a box truck parked in the wrong direction on a street. He also observed that its tires were partially in the roadway. The officer asked for identification, and each man provided a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Defendant was the driver. The officer checked the identifications through dispatch and learned that defendant had two outstanding arrest warrants. The officer then asked defendant to step out of the truck, told him that he was being placed under arrest, and directed him to put his hands up.
The officer called for backup, handcuffed defendant, and retrieved a gun from defendant’s waistband—a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver loaded with four hollow-point bullets and two slug rounds. During a search, the officer also recovered a concealed-carry permit that the State of Florida had issued to defendant. Defendant said that, because of the permit, he thought he had not done anything wrong. This is a common misconception that often leads to the arrest of out-of-state gun owners in New Jersey.
On February 20, 2014, a grand jury returned an indictment that charged defendant with second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon and fourth-degree possession of hollow-point bullets.