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 Criminal & DUI Lawyers 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.

Share |
Featured on CNN
ABC News
NBC News
Los Angeles Times
CBS News
The New York Times
Us Weekly
Entertainment Tonight
Good Morning America
Legal Broadcast Network
Avvo Rating 10.0
Client Reviews
Michael Kraut is outstanding! He genuinely cared about my case and instructed my mom and I throughout the entire process. He was very clear on what he needed in order to receive the best results. He kept us updated until the end. I thank him so much for getting my charges rejected. I highly recommend him to anyone with legal needs! Shaquan
I contacted Michael with concern for my personal and business reputation. He was very reassuring and confident the entire time. After about 3 weeks it was determined that no charges were being filed by any agency and I was in the clear of any investigation. One thing that is amazing is just how FAST Michael is at replying to phone calls, texts, and even emails! We are talking under 30 minutes in most cases. That is unheard of for most attorneys! Michael is incredible and not your typical run of the mill attorney. For best results hire him if you feel like you might be under investigation or could face charges. Even if you know you are innocent it is best to take care of the smoke before it becomes a fire. Brad
Michael Kraut is-hands down-the best criminal defense attorney and I can't begin to thank him for all that he did for me and my family. I reached out to him in the middle of the night and less than a couple hours later, he had gotten back to me and scheduled a meeting. He's a no-nonsense attorney who knows how to get the job done! From the second we retained him, I had peace of mind in knowing that we were in the best hands possible. If Michael Kraut couldn't get it done, I knew that it couldn't be done at all. You can't put a price tag on your freedom. He was worth every single penny. Lida
Michael Kraut is an outstanding attorney. He was extremely professional, and straightforward, yet sensitive with my case. I am confident I made the right choice by hiring Michael. I highly recommend him to anyone seeking a truly experienced lawyer. Daniel
Michael Kraut - I cannot thank you enough for all that you did for ​my son. When I came to you I read that you used to be a district attorney but I never knew how much that meant until I watch you in court. I knew it took 3 months but the final day when I heard the judge say that all charges were dismissed it was all worth it! I will always be grateful for all that you did for us. A.N.