People v. MurilloAnnotate this Case
The magistrate dismissed a felony complaint against defendant alleging two counts of threatening a crime victim. Penal Code Section 140, subdivision (a) makes it a crime to threaten a crime victim with violence. Here, the threats were made in the lyrics of a rap song distributed on the Internet. The trial court issued an order denying the People's motion to reinstate the complaint because the lyrics were protected speech and did not constitute a criminal threat under section 140. The court reversed, directing the superior court to enter a new order granting the motion and returning the case to the magistrate for resumption of proceedings. The court held that the trier of fact determines what constitutes a threat and, in this case, a reasonable listener could have understood the song to convey a serious expression of intent to commit an act of unlawful violence against the two crime victims at issue.