RALEIGH — Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel, who is running in North Carolina’s competitive 13th Congressional District race against Republican Bo Hines, has voted against two bills increasing penalties for drug-related deaths and participating in a riot.
One such bill was House Bill 474, which established new criminal offenses for death by distribution and aggravated death by distribution of ‘certain controlled substances’ without malice. The measure, which was signed into law by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper in 2019, received bipartisan support in both the N.C. House and Senate.
Another bill, House Bill 805, would have increased some penalties for current offenses and created new offenses related to rioting, specifically injuries to person or property stemming from rioting, looting or trespass during an emergency. It also would have included assaults on emergency personnel and stronger requirements for bail and pretrial release for defendants charged with rioting and/or looting or trespassing during an emergency.
The measure, which was brought to the General Assembly following 2020’s riots in downtown Raleigh and other cities, passed the legislature but was vetoed by Cooper.
In statements and blog entries over the past several years, he has also advertised his ability to help alleged criminals with legal representation and getting lesser charges or sentences. The firm advertised representing those convicted of domestic violence, assault against a police officer, and assault with a deadly weapon.
One such post, in April 2016, said in part, “This month Attorney Wiley Nickel had another not guilty verdict for one of our clients in Wake County. The client was charged with assault with a deadly weapon.”
The statement continued, saying, “The State of North Carolina needs to prove every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Our assault lawyers enjoy trying cases and believe that an aggressive defense is often the best offense. If you are charged with assault & battery, assault on a female, or assault with a deadly weapon in the Wake County or Raleigh area, contact the Law Offices of Wiley Nickel to speak with Raleigh Assault Lawyer Wiley Nickel.”
Nickel’s apparent support among groups skeptical of stronger law enforcement includes an organization called #VOTEPROCHOICE.
According to a petition the group sponsors, “Policing in the U.S. upholds a violent legacy of racialized trauma and control, diverting crucial resources from communities that most need them. We must immediately defund the police at local government levels.”
Nickel touts the group’s endorsement on his website.
His support among “defund the police” groups comes as homicides in Raleigh are at a year-to-date increase, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. In mid-July, the newspaper reported, “More people have been killed in Raleigh this year than by this time in either of the previous two years, Raleigh Police Department data show. There have been 24 homicide victims, with 21 of them dying from being shot. A total of 69 people have been shot so far this year.”
Nickel’s campaign did not respond to an email seeking comment on his support for the groups.