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Can song lyrics be used as evidence?

On Behalf of | Oct 4, 2022 | Criminal Defense

There are many songs in which an artist admits to having done something illegal. For instance, Machine Gun Kelly has an entire song about speeding and impaired driving. Both of these things could result in legal charges, but he claims to have done each of them in the song.

If you listen to this type of music, you may find yourself wondering why artists don’t get arrested for the contents of their songs. If they make an admission of guilt in a song, can the state use that to prosecute them? If you’re thinking that there’s no way this could happen, it may not be quite as black-and-white as you’re assuming.

Alleged gang activity

There is an ongoing case from earlier this year in which a rapper is accused of gang activity. In the indictment, lyrics and scenes from music videos are used as a way to show that the rapper was involved with these gangs. This could include things like making gang signs in music videos, for instance, or having direct lyrics talking about illegal activity.

The problem with that is, as critics point out, that artists are supposed to be able to have creative expression. Just because an artist says something does not mean that they actually did it.

For instance, imagine that someone wrote a book from the perspective of a serial killer. It could be marketed as a horror novel, and no one would think that the author was actually a serial killer. The same sort of standard has to be applied to song lyrics to give artists the same protection.

For those who do find themselves facing serious charges based on thin evidence, or things that shouldn’t even be used in court, it’s doubly important to understand what legal defense options exist.



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