If I threaten someone’s life in a song, can I be charged or become in trouble with the law at all?

UPDATED: Nov 8, 2011

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If I threaten someone’s life in a song, can I be charged or become in trouble with the law at all?

If I am a rap artist and make a song about a guy I don’t like and say I want to kill him, could I get in trouble in any way? And if so, what if I only call him by a nickname he goes by and not his birth name?

Asked on November 8, 2011 under Criminal Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

There is always the possibilty that if you write a song about a specific person that actually exists and you specifically name him or her where there are threats, you possibly could be charged with a crime by law enforcement. 

I suggest that you do not use the person's given name but rather use a nickname if you actually intend to write the song. There are freedom of speech considerations as well if the song is simply a song telling a story that might be protected under our Constitution. Good luck.

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