Trial Begins for Paterson Man Charged with Gun Possession

The trial began for a Paterson man who is charged with unlawful possession of a weapon in connection with several handguns that were discovered in a local convenience store during a drug raid.

27-year-old Tiheen Smith allegedly attempted to conceal a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun when Paterson police officers entered a store on Godwin Avenue on December of 2011 while conducting a narcotics investigation. The convenience store was reportedly a subject of the investigation because officials believed that drug transactions were taking place just outside of its doors.

According to a Passaic County Assistant Prosecutor, Smith told police that the gun was necessary for protection. A subsequent search of the premises led to the discovery of two more guns. However, there are multiple issues with the State’s case against Smith, one of which involves the store’s surveillance video. There is also no physical evidence linking Smith to the weapons.

As the case proceeds to trial, there is a 10-year term of incarceration hanging over Smith’s head. Due to the strictness of New Jersey’s gun laws, unlawful possession of a firearm is considered a second degree crime, punishable by a 5 to 10-year term of imprisonment.

Additionally, these offenses are governed by the Graves Act, which requires individuals convicted of these offenses to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment with a minimum period of parole ineligibility fixed at, or between, one-third to one-half of a sentence imposed, or 3 years, whichever is greater.

For additional information regarding this case, access the following article: Jurors hear opening remarks in gun-possession trial of Paterson man