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NY rappers convicted of crimes depicted in their music video

In an unusual case, five members of a rap group were convicted of robbery conspiracy and related charges in New York. A music video that the rap group made shows the men robbing an individual at gun point and getting away in a black Mercedes. Apparently this closely mirrored a series of happenings in the Bronx and Westchester County, for which these rappers were convicted. The music video was used as evidence against these men.

The Mercedes used in the music video is alleged to be the actual getaway car that the individuals used when committing these crimes. Robbery is an extremely serious conviction in New York because it is a felony offense whenever an individual forcibly steals something from another person by using intimidation or force. At least one of these men pleaded guilty to the charges of robbery in connection to stealing thousands from bodegas and delivery men in the area. One victim was killed in connection to these robberies.

The use of the music video as evidence against the charged individuals raises some unusual issues. First of all, the defense is arguing that very often a music video is simply a fictional form of artistic expression. It is not safe to allege that individuals committed a crime because they are depicted doing so in an art form. The defense also argues that this evidence simply served to skew the jury's perception of these defendants as violent people.

A law professor at a reputable university that also studies hip-hop says of the video and conviction, "These men have made art even when it's against their penal interest. Hip-hop artists frequently lament that the state's main intervention for young black men is to lock them up. It's sad that no other intervention happened to support these young men's obvious talent."

The conviction of these crimes carries sentences that could mean life in prison for some of these men. Robbery is extremely serious. A conviction of this nature could mean that an individual must sacrifice their entire future. If an individual is charged with such a crime in the Bronx, that individual would do well to seek a fierce advocate through an experienced criminal defense attorney that will fight for the best possible outcome.

Source: The New York Times, "Stars of a Violent Rap Video Are Found Guilty of Violent Crimes in Real Life," Benjamin Weiser, March 22, 2013

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