Can rap lyrics be used against you in court? The Supreme Court of New Jersey is considering just that. Next month the Court is expected to rule on whether rap lyrics written by defendants can be used during their trial(s).
In 2008, a New Jersey jury convicted Vonte Skinner of the attempted murder of his associate Lamont Peterson, who was left partially paralyzed after being shot multiple times at close range. During the trial, the prosecutor was permitted to read 13 pages of violent rap lyrics written by Skinner. These lyrics were found in the backseat of his girlfriend’s car at the time of his arrest, and they were written between two months and four years before the crime. None of his raps relate to the particular shooting for which he was convicted, and there was no indication that any of the acts described in the lyrics ever occurred.
Prosecutors argued that the lyrics showed motive and intent. In his verses, Skinner depicts gun violence in gory detail. The conviction was overturned by an appellate court in 2012, noting that there was no justification for using the lyrics in the case.
Now, the state’s highest court will decide.
Should a defendant’s rap lyrics be allowed to be used against him or her in court?
Sound off below!