Man who threatened Mayor McFarlane Better have a Rich Uncle

Bond WakeJudge Keith Gregory refused to lower the bond in a case involving alleged threats made against Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane.

Alec Dane Redner, a 27-year-old Wake County resident, was arrested in January on charges of communicating threats, a class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina, and with threatening an executive officer, a class I felony.

According to WRAL, Redner posted a message to McFarlane’s political website, reading: “You make a joke about the U.S. Constitution but soon you will (be) on the other end of the barrel.” The message also referred to the mayor by a crude name and told her to “watch out.”

These comments allegedly were made in response to statements McFarlane made that Redner believed were critical of Second Amendment gun rights.

A magistrate initially set the bond upon his arrest at $250,000 cash. Magistrates can sometimes set excessively high bonds, especially in high profile cases, assuming that once a district court judge looks at the bond, the judge will appropriately modify the bond.

Judge Gregory, at the prosecutor’s request, kept the bond the same. Collin Cook, the defense lawyer in this case, argued that the bond was unconstitutionally high.

The conservative talker 106.1 FM, normally a tough-on-crime outlet, briefly addressed the story, and pointed out that listeners had posted on websites/Facebook pages. I have been unable to find comments sections of 106.1-related blogs, but WRAL’s comments section does have some push back against a $250,000 bond by commenters who note that bond set by Judge Gregory is far in excess of what would normally be set for either a class 1 misdemeanor or a class I felony.

Last year, Judge Stephens and Judge Rader issued bond guidelines consistent with their authority under N.C.G.S. 15A-535. These guidelines establish that, after the judge makes a determination that the person should be released upon the execution of a secured bond, that judge should look to the suggested bond amounts, while exercising their own judgment in making bond decisions.

Bond is always an individual judgment by a judge about whether the person is a danger to society, and whether the person is a flight risk. The judge can look at a person’s criminal record (or lack thereof), the nature of the offense, ties to the community, the strength of the government’s case, the punishment level if convicted, history of employment, among other considerations outlined in 15A-534.

Since I was not at the hearing, I don’t know the arguments that were made in favor or opposed to a reduction of bond from $250,000, or whether Redner has a substantial criminal record or no criminal record. However, the suggested bond amount in this instance is more 25 times higher than the highest recommended bond for the crime of threatening a public official, a class I felony punishable by a maximum of 24 months only if Redner were a repeat, level six offender.

Because Redner cannot be sentenced to a straight active sentence unless he has more than 9 prior record level points, the default position in most cases for a Class I felony is of up to $10,000 secured, with the opportunity to use a bondsman to bond out for as little perhaps 10 percent.

In addition, most bonds are merely secured bonds, not cash bonds. In this instance, Redner will need to come up with $250,000, without resorting to a bondsmen where he would only need to pay a fee of up to 15 percent. Unless he’s a millionaire, or has a very rich uncle, he’s not getting out of jail.

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Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.