On February 15, 2005, Roy Vonder Heyden's ("applicant") Paterson home was burglarized. In re: Application of Roy Vonder Heyden, No. A-0979-10 (App. Div. July 19, 2011). Thereafter he moved to his girlfriend's home in Verona. However, he continued to receive mail at his Paterson home, keep furniture there, pay taxes and utilities for the residence, and tend the garden there. His Paterson addresses was also listed on his driver's license.
In September 2009, the applicant filed an application to obtain a firearms purchaser identification card ("FPIC"). On the application he listed the Paterson residence as his address. A Paterson detective investigated the application and determined that the applicant did not reside at the Paterson location. The detective recommended that the Chief of the Paterson Police Department deny the application because the applicant "'falsified the application[.]'" The applicant then appealed that denial to the Law Division. In those proceedings, the applicant testified that he was staying in Verona "'because of the situation in his life.'" The applicant also outlined his ties to the Paterson residence, and stated that he did not apply for a FPIC in Verona because he did not reside there. The judge affirmed the denial of the application, ruling that he was "'convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that [the applicant] falsified the application by putting a residence on there, even though [he] hadn't lived there for more than four years[.]"
The Appellate Division reversed. As an initial matter, the court explained that "residence" had many meanings, and that although a person could have only one domicile, he or she could have more than one residence. The court then turned to the relevant statutory provision, N.J.S.A. 2C:58-3(c), which creates a presumption of eligibility to apply for a FPIC subject to certain "disabilities." One such "disability" is if a person knowingly falsifies information on the application form for a FPIC. After reviewing the statutory definition of "knowingly," the court explained that to satisfy the "disability" exception, the applicant "would have had to be 'aware' that 'the nature of his conduct' was to provide false information."
Although conceding that the applicant spent significant time in Verona, the Appellate Division found that "he still considers his Paterson home as his domicile." Thus, the court concluded that "the record does not support a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that [the applicant] 'knowingly falsifie[d]' his residence information on his FPIC application."