In The Matter of The Appeal of The Denial of The Application for Firearms Purchaser Identification Card and Permits to Purchase a Handgun N.M.
Appellate Docket No.: A-2445-21
Decided November 14, 2023
Submitted by New Jersey Criminal Lawyer, Jeffrey Hark
In a recent unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of New Jersey affirmed a denial of petitioner’s Firearms Purchaser Identification Card (FPIC or FID) and handgun purchase permits (“HPP”) after petitioner was to have a prior Driving while intoxicated (DWI) conviction, violation of municipal ordinance, disorderly persons conviction, 4th degree theft dismissed through Pretrial Intervention (PTI) and his girlfriend submitted a letter indicating N.M. was an alcoholic.
In the Matter of N.M., on March 21, 2021, N.M. applied to the Freehold Borough Police Department for an FPIC and three HPPs. On May 10, 2021, after a background investigation was completed, Chief of Police Craig Dispenza denied N.M.’s application based on N.J.S.A. 2C:58- 3(c)(5), finding that issuance would not be in the interest of the public health, safety, or welfare.
On March 7, 2022, the trial court conducted an evidentiary hearing. Chief Dispenza testified he based his decision to deny N.M.’s application on the background investigation completed by Lieutenant Christopher Colaner. Lieutenant Colaner testified his background investigation revealed N.M. previously filed three gun permit applications in other municipalities in 2005, 2012, and 2016. Those applications were denied because issuance would not have been in the interest of the public health, safety, or welfare.
N.M. was cited for municipal ordinance violations in 1996 for interfering with a borough officer, and in 1998 for fighting, engaging in threatening behavior, and refusing to leave the area when ordered to do so by a uniformed officer. N.M. was also in possession of a dagger with a three-inch serrated blade at the time of the 1998 incident. N.M. was cited for numerous motor vehicle violations and, in 2001, was convicted of driving while intoxicated, N.J.S.A. 39:4-50. In 2011, N.M. successfully completed the pretrial intervention program after being charged with fourth-degree theft by deception, N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4.
Lieutenant Colaner obtained a copy of a reference form submitted to the Keansburg Police Department in connection with N.M.’s 2012 gun permit application. The reference indicated that N.M. had been convicted of a crime or disorderly persons offense, was an alcoholic, and had committed an act of domestic violence. Lieutenant Colaner confirmed with N.M. that the reference form was completed by a former girlfriend who is the mother of his child. In 2008, she obtained a domestic violence temporary restraining order against N.M. that was ultimately dismissed.
Lieutenant Colaner also learned that on August 3, 2019, N.M. was the subject of a domestic violence investigation in Long Branch, New Jersey. According to the police report, N.M. and his current girlfriend, S.M., were involved in an argument on the side of the road. N.M. was driving them home from a bar when S.M. became agitated because she lost her cell phone. N.M. stopped the car, and they got out. According to a witness who called the police and remained at the scene, N.M. grabbed S.M. and shoved her to the ground. S.M. reported that she tripped and fell. The officer determined S.M. was the victim of domestic violence simple assault. N.M. was not charged with any offense.
The officer detected a strong odor of alcohol from N.M. and S.M. and, as a result, did not permit either of them to drive the vehicle from the scene. The officer took the keys to the vehicle and advised N.M. and S.M. they could pick up the keys at police headquarters “no earlier than [8:00 a.m. the next] morning, after they have had time to sober up.”
N.M. also testified at the hearing. He testified that he applied for the gun permits to shoot target practice, previously completed gun safety courses, and is licensed to carry firearms in Florida and New Hampshire. N.M. owns a construction company that has been in operation for twenty-seven years. He has not been cited for a motor vehicle violation since 2001. His 1996 and 1998 municipal ordinance convictions were expunged in 2021, after his gun permit application in this case was denied.
The Court denied N.M.’s application finding that the domestic violence incident with the odor of alcohol, prior DWI conviction, and prior violations of the law included a common theme of N.M.’s substance abuse for which he provided no proof of rehabilitation. N.M. appealed and the Appellate Division upheld the denial.
This case is important to understand that there are several ways police can deny you an FID, FPIC, or handgun purchaser’s identification card. Here, although petitioner’s criminal charge was dismissed with PTI and the TRO was vacated, his conduct during those incidents, including a domestic violence incident in which N.M. was not charged lead the Court to conclude his alcoholism from his Dwi conviction was grounds to deny him.
If you or someone you know is involved with a firearms issue or expungement questions, or has questions with regard to TERPO, FERPO, or criminal and domestic violence activity that prohibits the ownership and possession of firearms, contact the experienced gun lawyers at Hark & Hark today. We ensure gun ownership rights are protected and preserved.
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