Assembly Bill 2799: the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act and the Interplay of the First Amendment
In a landmark move to protect the fundamental right to freedom of expression, Assembly Bill 2799, also known as the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act, was passed to prevent lyrics, poems, or other artistic expressions from being used as evidence in criminal and civil proceedings, with certain exceptions.Assembly Bill 2799: the Decriminalizing Artistic Expression Act
AB 2799, a Progressive Piece of Legislation, Aims to Protect Artists From Potential Legal Repercussions Arising Solely From Their Artistic Expressions. Effective January 1, 2023, Lyrics, Poems, and Other Forms of Artistic Expression Cannot Be Used as Direct Evidence in Criminal and Civil Proceedings, Shielding Artists From Unwarranted Prosecution or Harassment Based Solely on Their Creative Works.Exceptions to the Rule
While AB 2799 generally shields artistic expression from being used as evidence, the legislation incorporates some essential exceptions where such expression may still be admissible in court.
Imminent Threat of Violence: If the artistic expression in question contains explicit and credible threats of imminent violence or harm to individuals or the community, the court may consider it as evidence. AB 2799 does not intend to provide a shield for genuine threats or incitement to violence, acknowledging that public safety remains a paramount concern.
Ongoing Criminal Investigations: In cases where artistic expression is directly connected to an ongoing criminal investigation, such as terrorism, organized crime, or human trafficking, it may be admissible as evidence. The legislation recognizes that in certain circumstances, artistic works might contain clues or information relevant to the investigation and pursuit of justice.
Copyright Infringement: AB 2799 does not protect artists from facing legal consequences for copyright infringement or other intellectual property violations. If the artistic expression involves unauthorized use of copyrighted material, the aggrieved party retains the right to pursue civil remedies.The First Amendment and Freedom of Artistic Expression
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution provides robust protection for freedom of speech and expression, encompassing various forms of communication, including artistic expression. This constitutional safeguard has been crucial in allowing artists to explore and express even controversial or unpopular viewpoints, fostering creativity and enriching the fabric of society.
AB 2799 strikes a delicate balance between safeguarding artistic freedom and addressing legitimate concerns related to public safety and the administration of justice. By precluding artistic expressions from being used as direct evidence, the act reinforces the core principles of the First Amendment, encouraging artists to express themselves freely without fear of censorship or persecution. Considering the exceptions to AB 2799’s prohibition against using artistic expression as evidence, courts must be vigilant in distinguishing genuine threats or criminal intent from constitutionally protected artistic expression. The language of the act should be narrowly tailored to avoid any potential chilling effect on artists, as the threat of prosecution might deter artists from tackling controversial or socially relevant subjects. Additionally, the courts must avoid allowing biases or subjective interpretations to dictate the admissibility of artistic expression, as that could undermine the core principles of the First Amendment.
If you have been charged with a crime, it is critical that you discuss your case immediately with a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has extensive experience litigating evidentiary motions, and has great success in excluding inadmissible evidence from being heard by the jury.
For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.