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Threatening a Judge, Even in a Song, is Still a Crime

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

It's never a good idea to threaten a judge no matter how you go about it. That includes if you do it in a song posted online, according to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Franklin Delano Jeffries II was engaged in a custody battle back in 2010 that had been taking a while. He poured out his frustration with the process into a song and posted it online, reports The Wall Street Journal. But a court ruled that his venting went too far and the Sixth Circuit agreed in their ruling on Monday.

The problem for Jeffries comes down to the lyrics for his composition.

The song, titled 'Daughter's Love,' includes some lines that are clearly directed at the judge in the custody case.

One line says 'you're gonna lose your job' while another says 'if you don't stop, I'll kill you,' according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since the case was on appeal, the issue isn't whether the song was actually threatening. The court is instead looking for any reversible error from the trial. If there is not enough evidence for a jury to reasonably find the song to be threatening then the case could be reversed.

The court found otherwise.

The directness of the lyrics and the number of threats in the song make it possible that a jury could take them as real, ruled the appellate court.

Unsure when venting crosses the line into criminal threats? Post a question on our forums and get a quick response.

For his threatening statements, Jeffries was sentenced to 18 months in jail. That conviction was upheld by the Sixth Circuit.

His lawyer argued that there was a misunderstanding and that the song was only a way to vent his frustrations. But the U.S. Attorney who handled the appeal disagreed. He told The Wall Street Journal that the case was decided correctly.

One thing the court did note in its ruling was the uniqueness of the case. While it's not common for songs to be used this way, it's no less threatening to a judge... or anyone else for that matter.

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