A California man may be headed to prison based solely on his rap CD, reports ABC 10 News.
Along with 14 other alleged gang members, San Diego-based Brandon Duncan, better known as rapper Tiny Doo, is facing attempted-murder charges in a “gang conspiracy” involving nine local shootings since 2013, according to ABC 10 News.
But given that he has no criminal record—nor has he ever been previously tied to any of the murders being prosecuted—how is it possible that Duncan is facing jail time?
A little-known California state law, passed in 2000, allows for prosecution of gang members if they are found to profit from the crimes of their fellow gang members.
This is the first time this law is being used. Prosecutors argue that Duncan benefited from the shootings because after the murders, his gang rose in status. A rise in status allowed Duncan to increase his album sales, say San Diego prosecutors.
“We’re not just talking about a CD of anything, of love songs. We’re talking about a CD [cover] … there is a revolver with bullets,” Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna told the news station.
But Duncan’s lawyer, Brian Watkins, is crying foul. “It’s shocking. He has no criminal record. Nothing in his lyrics says go out and commit a crime. Nothing in his lyrics references these shootings, yet they are holding him liable for conspiracy. There are huge constitutional issues,” he said.
Thomas Jefferson University law professor Alan Kreit agrees, and believes that this case raises many constitutional issues, including freedom of speech. “Where does that end if that’s the definition of criminal liability? Is Martin Scorsese going to be prosecuted if he meets with Mafia members for a movie for his next film? The Constitution says it can’t be a crime to simply make gangsta rap songs and hang out with people that are committing crimes. You have to have more involvement than that,” said Kreit.
Hearings on whether the case against Duncan would move forward resumed on Monday.
Read more at ABC 10 News.