Michael Palacios — the messenger who last Friday swung a hatchet all over a Lower East Side McDonald’s, busting through glass and terrorizing customers — should surely be charged more stiffly by Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg. Palacios’ now-viral freakout, for which he has been hit with just two misdemeanors, happened after he was punched by three men who were reportedly responding to him “going at” a woman who had “rejected him,” according to a witness.
Penal Law 145.05(2), Criminal Mischief in the Third Degree, is a Class E felony. An individual is guilty when “with intent to damage property of another person…he or she damages property of another person in an amount exceeding $250.”
Given the glass Palacios shattered, he certainly qualifies. But here’s the rub for foes of Bragg: Even that felony charge isn’t bail-eligible under New York law.
The problem, again, is the statute. In a sane state, a judge would be able to look at the totality of a case and (hopefully) set high bail to ensure that a defendant is not immediately free again to terrorize patrons at another McDonald’s, or in the park, or on the subway, or on the street.
But this is New York, the outlier of the 50 states and the federal system, where despite some real improvements to the state bail laws won by Gov. Hochul this year, judges still have no discretion to consider the potential danger a defendant presents when determining pretrial detention. If a charge is on the approved list or meets other conditions described the law, bail or remand is a possibility. If not, not. A judge may only consider the likelihood an individual will return to court. (Judicial discretion, by the way, is no magic bullet. Judges often make mistakes.)
Holding a man like Palacios in jail will not fix him long-term. But it does send a signal that violence has consequences, and it does, for a time, keep the rest of New York safe from his violent outbursts. That ought to count for something.
©2022 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.