A young man was beaten twice and shot at because he had helped police solve a crime. He was forced to move and take other precautions to protect himself. But the police said he had not met the “imminent and compelling” emergency standard for carrying a concealed handgun.
A state appeals court has reversed a man’s handgun possession conviction after finding he should have been able to argue he needed it for protection from people trying to kill him for cooperating with police.
The court, in a Tuesday decision, found merit in the man’s arguments that the danger he faced was real, and that authorities had not sufficiently helped him – after he’d helped them by wearing a wire in an investigation. . . .
The decision says the man described his situation to a police detective: he’d helped police and prosecutors in a prior case and now people were “after him.”
After the two assaults and being fired upon, and moving, he sought help from a detective and the prosecutor from the case, but received no assistance. He told police he wanted to move out of state, but could not due to being on probation. . . .
The Mercer prosecutor’s office argued against the necessity defense in the appeal, saying the man had not qualified for the defense, specifically that he had not been met with an “imminent and compelling” emergency.
The appeals court disagreed.
The man wore a wire for police. “By doing so, he assisted police in performing their duty to protect the public. Through no fault of his own, his cooperation with the police led to him being beaten up twice and fired upon in his own community,” the decision said.
“Defendant was acutely aware that other individuals in the community wanted to hurt or kill him. We find more than sufficient evidence … to conclude that the threat to defendant was ‘imminent and compelling,’ and raised a reasonable expectation in the defendant that he would suffer physical injury, if not death,” the decision went on.
The defendant’s, “plea to law enforcement for assistance went unanswered. He tried to move out of state to avoid the threat to his life, however he was unable to do so. Defendant also changed his local residence to avoid encounters with his attackers, which didn’t work, as he was attacked outside his new home.” . . .Kevin Shea, “Man can argue he needed handgun because police did not protect him, N.J. court rules,” NJ.com, October 9, 2022.