Brandon Duncan has no criminal record and is not a suspect in any murders. However, the San Diego rapper, who goes by the name Tiny Doo, is facing life in prison for the lyrics on his album, according to KGTV (San Diego).
Tiny Doo and 14 other gangbangers are all on trial for a series of gang-related shootings in San Diego since April 2013. Tiny Doo is not specifically charged with any of the shootings, but is instead being prosecuted by an obscure California law – approved by voters in 2000 – that prosecutes gang members who benefit from the actions of other gang members. Deputy District Attorney Anthony Campagna says that even though Tiny Doo isn’t known to have committed any murders, he has benefited – via increased sales of his most recent album, No Safety – by murders committed by his gang associates.
“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.”
Tiny Doo’s lawyer, Brian Watkins, is shocked that someone could be facing prison simply for bragging about criminal behavior.
“It’s shocking. He has no criminal record. Nothing in his lyrics say go out and commit a crime. Nothing in his lyrics reference these shootings, yet they are holding him liable for conspiracy. There are huge constitutional issues.”
Constitutional law professor Alex Kreit weighed in on those constitutional issues.
“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 gangster rap songs and hang out with people that are committing crimes. You have to have more involvement than that.”
According to MTV, rap lyrics have been used against rappers in courtrooms before. Rapper Smurf Luciano was acquitted in a drug case where his lyrics were used against him, while rapper Ra Diggs was convicted of murder, and sent to prison, after his lyrics were used against him.
The difference between those cases and Tiny Doo’s case is that the lyrics of Ra Diggs and Smurf Luciano were considered evidence of a crime, not the crime itself. Tiny Doo is facing prison simply for writing, and publishing, those lyrics.
Whether Tiny Doo will join the long list of rappers who have done time remains to be seen; his case has not yet gone to trial and, even if he’s convicted, his attorneys are likely to appeal on First Amendment grounds.
Do you believe that Tiny Doo should be sent to prison for glorifying the crimes of his associates?
[Image courtesy of: Vibe]