U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Appeal Challenges Misquoted Rap Lyrics on Facebook

ProTip: If you plan on breaking the law in the exact same way as one of your favorite rap lyrics describes (or any rap lyric that you are aware of; it doesn't have to be a favorite), just don't. And definitely don't post the lyric to your Facebook page unless you want it to be used against you at your criminal trial.

How can people think it's okay to quote songs or make up lyrics on Facebook -- or while sitting in a jail cell -- that perfectly describe the crimes they're being accused of? Seriously? One case from 2006 (cited by Fourth Circuit) details a defendant that sang "I shot the sheriff, but in my case it was the deputy" while in jail awaiting sentencing for shooting a sheriff's deputy.

Lyrics on Facebook as Evidence

The case of Larry Recio may warrant a few chuckles in the same way as an America's Funniest Home Videos crotch shots montage. 

Recio, a felon and person known to police, was spotted on the street, allegedly, with a handgun hanging out of his waistline. When police called out to him, it is alleged that he gave chase. During the pursuit, officers claim to have viewed him tossing his gun. Recio (supposedly) evaded capture that time, but the officers recovered a firearm. A couple months later, Recio was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm.

During the trial, not only did the prosecution introduce the evidence of the officer's testimony witnessing the gun being tossed, but also an audio recording of the officers' radio conversation which corroborated that version of events. However, in addition to the corroborated testimony, a rap lyric that Recio had quote (or misquoted) on Facebook after being indicted, was introduced as evidence against him. The lyric read: "It's Always Tucked, Kuz I'll B Damn If My Life Get Took!!" The prosecution pushed the explanation that Recio frequently carried a firearm tucked into his waistline, and did so to protect his life.

And while Recio pulled out all the stops arguing that the lyric was nothing more than something he liked from rap music, the court found too much similarity between the lyric and crime alleged to believe it was a mere innocent quoting of a rap lyric. The court noted that when a lyric is so close to the alleged crime, it can easily be viewed as an admission (either direct or adoptive).

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