A California jury recently dismissed murder charges against a defendant after a hip-hop artist testified on the possible meanings of the slang term ‘lick’. The case stemmed from the fatal shooting of two individuals in September 2014, in what appears to be a marijuana deal. The acquitted defendant’s two other companions who fired their guns at the victims were convicted for murder.

Expert Testimony on the Meaning of “Lick”

Prosecutors maintained that the three defendants planned to rob the deceased victims while pursuing a drug deal. They alleged that before the incident, the acquitted defendant sent a text message that read: “Where da licks”. Prosecutors contended that “lick” was African-American slang for robbery. While the acquitted defendant did not have a gun and did not fire a shot at any of the victims that day, he was charged with murder along with his other co-defendants, following the “felony murder” rule.

Felony Murder Rule

Under this rule, the unlawful killing of another person that occurs in the commission of specific felonies such as burglary, arson, rape, robbery, and kidnapping, is first-degree murder, for which all the participants can be charged with and convicted of murder.

The prosecution argued that the defendants intended to rob the victims. In their defense, the two accused claimed that they fired at the victims in self-defense in a drug deal gone bad. The defense also presented a hip-hop artist to testify that “lick” can have several meanings such as “what’s up” or “what’s happening”.

The jury deliberated on the issue for days and came out with a verdict acquitting the defendant who did not fire at the victims and convicting the two other defendants of murder. Both convicts may face a maximum sentence of 55 years to life.

Murder is a serious offense that is punished by long years in prison. There are varying degrees of murder, each punished by different maximum jail times. This is why hiring the best criminal defense attorney is important for anyone charged with murder.

Criminal Defense Strategy for Acquittal

All criminal defendants are entitled to the presumption of innocence and can only be convicted if the prosecution can establish their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. So in the case of the three defendants where one accused did not fire at the victims, his participation in the killing was rendered doubtful by the expert testimony of the hip-hop artist that the word “lick” in an earlier text message could have meant other things, not necessarily a plan to rob the victims.

If you are facing a murder charge in Los Angeles, California, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Kestenbaum Law Group will work very hard to seek a dismissal or reduction of the charges against you. We welcome your call today at (818) 616-4312 to help you to get the best criminal defense team on your side.