It may surprise many New Jersey residents just how easily a person can end up being charged with a serious crime. What may have never been intended as criminal can sometimes be treated as such under the law. A good example can be seen in a recent case in Middlesex County.
In the autumn of 2015, a man was hired to play a role in a movie that involved the use of an air pistol that is able to shoot ball-bearing ammunition. The gun was used simply as a prop and reports indicate that it was never fired. Yet, the actor was arrested and charged with a weapons crime. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the weapons charge alone. His past criminal history opened up the possibility for him to spend as many as 30 years in prison.
The arrest was based upon the fact that the film producers failed to obtain the necessary permission to use the pistol as a prop in the neighborhood in which they were filming. Prosecutors alleged that the defendant was responsible for doing his own checking on such matters. In order to avoid the prison sentence, the actor pled guilty to a third degree felony charge of creating false public alarm and may serve up to three years on probation. He may also request permission to leave the state even while on probation for professional purposes.
Few people would think that the innocent act of filming a movie scene would lead to a criminal charge. Defendants in cases like this may find it beneficial to talk with an attorney to better understand the law and defense options.
Source: nj1015.com, "Up to 30 years in prison avoided: Actor takes plea deal for having prop gun," Toniann Antonelli, July 20, 2016