Lawyers & Pop Music: Would the Police Open Fire on Ke$ha?

Lawyers and pop music rarely mix.

Jackson Brown’s Lawyers in Love is Exhibit A of the musical challenge in writing legally themed songs.

Moreover, attorneys frequently expect lyrics that include “whereas” and “herein after,” which cause challenges for most vocal artists.

Additionally, attorneys will kick into issue spotting mode while watching music videos.

I befell that curse and endured a serious migraine from the legal issues presented in Ke$ha’s Die Young music video.

I am sure English teachers had similar freak out nosebleeds from the use of the non-word “childs” in the song.

Here are legal issues depicted in the Die Young video:

Trespassing on a church (possibly abandoned or condemned)

Probable cultist activity evidenced by pentagrams

Engaging in conduct that Professor Charles Whitebread said would never be on a bar exam and surely vindicates Tipper Gore’s views on music warning labels

Disturbing the peace

Possible permit issues on holding a public concert/dance/parade/protest

Let’s explore the trespassing in the church and the ultimate police involvement.

Under California Penal Code section 602(m), a person commits a misdemeanor by “Entering and occupying real property or structures of any kind without the consent of the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession.”

Ke$ha’s kicking down the door clearly demonstrates entering an area without the consent of the owner.

Moreover, the property is then occupied by her gang of back-up dancers, meeting the “entering and occupying” requirements of the statute.

What is unclear is whether the pentagrams were added by Ke$ha’s followers or already existed in the church. If added by the “Ke$hans,” there would be additional vandalism charges.

Arguably placing pentagrams in a church could be a hate crime under California Penal Code 422.6, because the pentagrams 1) defaced the church property and 2) the placement of the pentagrams would cause intimation or interference with the church parishioners’ Constitutional right to practice their religion under the First Amendment.

However, if the property was condemned or otherwise deemed unusable, there probably was not a hate crime, due to the lack of individuals using the church, thus no one to intimidate. However, there was still no legal right for the dance trope to enter the property, thus meaning there was still a trespass. Simply put, if the state condemns property for habitation, you have no legal right to enter it.

Disturbing the peace (also known as breach of the peace) is the criminal offense of creating a public disturbance or engaging in disorderly conduct, such as making a distracting noise. (See, Black’s Law Dictionary). California Penal Code section 404(a) states:

Any use of force or violence, disturbing the public peace, or any threat to use force or violence, if accompanied by immediate power of execution, by two or more persons acting together, and without authority of law, is a riot.

California Penal Code section 405 states:

Every person who participates in any riot is punishable by a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

Would the Ke$hans’ actions be considered a riot under California law? This would require the kicking in of a door, followed by dancing, music and criminal congress to be either be 1) through force or violence, or 2) disturbing the peace, to qualify as a riot under California law. The facts do not support “through force or violence,” (besides kicking down one door), so the issue turns on disturbing the peace. The answer may turn on one simple issue: how loud were they?

The biggest oddity was the arrival of the police (who appeared to have been Mexican Federal Police), who opened fire on the Ke$hans.

The crime of trespassing is a misdemeanor (and unlikely a “shoot first” crime in Mexico). Moreover, loud parties normally do not end in police gunfire without a public threat.

While it is highly appropriate for the police to break up a breach of the peace and arrest trespassers, shooting at everyone appeared to have no legal justification.

 

Unless these were the grammar police and the use of the non-word “childs” is all that is required for lethal force.

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