Threatening Rap Lyrics and the Criminal Law

Jay Leiderman
By: Jay Leiderman
July 31 2015

The magistrate erroneously ruled that the threatening rap lyric was protected speech as a matter of law.  (130) (221)
Penal Code section 140, subd. (a) makes it a crime to threaten a crime victim with violence. Here, alleged threats were made in the lyrics of a rap song distributed on the Internet. The magistrate erred by dismissing the complaint after the preliminary hearing. The magistrate ruled that as a matter of law the lyrics were protected speech and did not constitute a criminal threat within section 140. However, the question of whether the lyrics constituted a threat had to be determined by the trier of fact.
People v. Murillo ____ Cal.App.4th ____, ____ Cal.Rptr.3d ____, 2015 D.A.R 8401 (2nd Dist. 2015) July 22, 2015 (B257429)