Jersey City Man Released, After 30 Days in Jail for Mere Possession of Firearms in His Home
Bail Originally Set at Unattainable $75,000.
By Attorney Evan F. Nappen, PGNH Counsel
Hudson County, New Jersey –-(Ammoland.com) At approximately 10pm on Thursday night, January 24, 2013, 33-year-old Keith Pantaleon of Jersey City, New Jersey, was in the bedroom of his apartment watching television after a full day’s work – when he heard thumping noises coming from his living room.
Believing that his residence may be being broken into, he grabbed his soft-bound Day Planner case (which also held a lawfully purchased handgun), and cracked open his bedroom door to investigate.
In the center of his living room, he saw a man dressed entirely in dark clothing who had his back towards him. He cracked open his door slightly further and saw near the entrance to his apartment a police officer, his landlord, and an EMT worker.
When the man dressed in dark clothing in the middle of his living room turned around, he saw it was another police officer.
One of the officers immediately ordered Pantaleon to come out of his bedroom. Pantaleon tossed his unopened Day Planner case onto his bed. As he went to close his bedroom door behind him, one of the officers pushed him into his living room. The officer then ordered Pantaleon to face a corner of his living room and handcuffed him. One of the officers allegedly threatened Pantaleon that if he had pulled out a firearm, he would have shot him. Officers asked if Pantaleon owned any firearms. To which, he did not reply.
As one of the officers watched Pantaleon (who remained in custody in Pantaleon’s living room), the other officer warrantlessly searched Pantaleon’s bedroom – which including opening cabinets and his Day Planner case – then demanded that Pantaleon provide the PIN# combination to his safe, which the officer proceeded to open and search.
After finding the handgun in Pantaleon’s Day Planner, the officer asked him if he possessed any more firearms. To which, Pantaleon indicated that he had a rifle on a top shelf in a box.
Officers claim that they announced their presence, yet at no time did Pantaleon hear officers announce their presence in his home. At no time during the home invasion was Pantaleon read his Miranda rights. At no time did Pantaleon grant permission for anyone to enter his apartment without his permission, no less police officers without a warrant.
On the night in question, Pantaleon’s upstairs neighbor allegedly complained to police about the landlord providing insufficient heat. The boiler for the apartment building is adjacent to the kitchen area of Pantaleon’s residence. Police apparently insisted that the landlord open Pantaleon’s residence on their behalf despite the extremely late hour and lack of consent by Pantaleon.
Officers then took Pantaleon to police headquarters, where, after further questioning, he was charged with unlawful possession of: two handguns, a rifle, an “assault rifle,” a large capacity magazine, and certain ammunition.
In New Jersey, permits to purchase firearms are not required for possession of firearms within one’s home. Possession of firearms within one’s residence is exempted under N.J.S. 2C:39-6e, as well as protected under the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on the Second Amendment in D.C. v. Heller and Chicago v. McDonald, and the ruling in the recently decided New Jersey Appellate Division matter, IMO of the Application for a New Jersey Permit to Carry a Handgun by Richard Pantano, A-1682-11T1 (February 22, 2013).
Pursuant to statute at issue, the ammunition in question is legal to possess since New Jersey’s ammunition prohibition only applies to handgun ammunition and the ammunition at issue is specifically designed for use in a rifle. The rifle at issue was allegedly an AR-15, one of the most commonly possessed type of rifle in America.
Pantaleon lawfully purchased his firearms as a prior resident of Pennsylvania. He also possesses permits to carry firearms from Nevada and Florida. Pantaleon has no prior criminal convictions and no mental health history. He is not accused of misusing or threatening to use any firearms. No unlawful purpose for said possessions has been alleged.
Despite the above, his bail was set at $75,000.00 cash or bond, which the 33-year-old did not have. A friend of Pantaleon’s, however, brought awareness of his matter on the Internet, which raised funds to hire the law firm of Evan F. Nappen, Attorney at Law PC to represent.
Louis P. Nappen, Esq. of the Nappen Law Firm (www.evannappen.com) immediately filed a Motion for Bail Reduction, which, after a hearing on February 27, resulted in Pantaleon being released on his own recognizance. Pantaleon had been incarcerated for over one month, since night of January 24.
Louis Nappen stated, “It is apparent that police violated Mr. Pantaleon’s rights protecting possession of firearms within one’s home, his 5th and 6th Amendment rights to remain silent and to be provided with an attorney before questioning and, most egregiously, his 4th Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Jersey City Police publicly smeared Pantaleon’s reputation with comparisons to Adam Lanza and by publication of a warning letter to local schools. See NJ.com Article .
Pantaleon was an IT Specialist for a highly respectable bank, a position he proudly garnered last year, and was recently noted for promotion.
He presently requires funding to proceed with his defense. If you would like to contribute to Pantaleon’s cause, please contact www.gofundme.com/Stand4Keith .
Evan Nappen (www.EvanNappen.com) is a criminal defense attorney who has focused on New Jersey firearms and weapons law for over 23 years. He is the author of the New Jersey Gun Law Guide. Visit his website at www.EvanNappen.com