The YSL Case: The SOURCE’s Legal Breakdown of Charges & Terms

Young Thug Makes First Court Appearance in Months

It has been months since Atlanta native Young Thug and members of his Young Stoner Life Records, also known as Young Slime Life, were arrested and charged in part of a RICO case in Georgia. Thug, born Jeffrey Williams, was the critical name of District Attorney Fani Willis’ 56-count indictment on the chart-topping rap star along with fellow star Gunna and other label signees Lil Duk, Yak Gotti, and more.

Thug is facing numerous charges; some were added to his name as recently as Dec. 2022. Meanwhile, at least eight of his co-defendants have pleaded out. One of which, an alleged co-founder of the gang, has reportedly agreed to testify without the use of the fifth amendment.

With this new ever-flowing, Hip-Hop is being introduced to new legal terms, some familiar, some never heard. As the case gets underway, The SOURCE offers a legal breakdown of charges and terms to help you understand what has already occurred and prep you for what may be on the way.

Jury Selection:   Those qualified are randomly chosen to be summoned to appear for jury duty. This selection process helps to make sure that jurors represent a cross section of the community, without regard to race, gender, national origin, age, or political affiliation. 

Voir Dire:  the process used by the parties to select a fair and impartial jury. During voir dire, the jury panel is questioned by the judge and by both parties’ lawyers. The questions are intended to help the lawyers determine whether potential jurors are eligible to serve, or may have conflicts of interest or existing bias against a particular party. Voir dire is an important factor in prevailing at trial, since a single biased juror can cause a mistrial regardless of what the actual evidence shows.

Indictment:  a formal written accusation of crime affirmed by a grand jury and presented by it to a court for trial of the accused.

Grand Jury:  Selected from a cross section of the community and formed for the purpose of issuing indictments based on criminal charges.  The grand jury proceedings are secret and the targets of the criminal charges and their attorneys are not allowed to attend.  The prosecution presents evidence to the panel arguing that an indictment must be issued, and the panel of 16-23 jurors votes on it, with 12 jurors required to indict.  Unlike a criminal trial, in which the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt,” to issue an indictment the burden of proof is a “preponderance of the evidence,” meaning that the jurors must find that it is “more likely than not” that there is a sufficient basis to issue the indictment.

Plea Deal:    A plea deal is a negotiated resolution of a criminal case between the person accused of a crime and the prosecution. Typically the government will offer a reduced sentence in exchange for cooperation, for example, providing testimony helpful to the prosecution of other defendants.  Plea deals are also called plea bargains, plea agreements, or charge bargaining. Criminal laws allow these arrangements if both sides and the judge agree on the deal. When the Government has a strong case, the Government may offer the defendant a plea deal to avoid trial and perhaps reduce his exposure to a lengthier sentence.

Immunity:   Typically, a prosecutor offers immunity to someone who has committed a minor crime because they believe that it will help them catch or convict someone who has committed a major crime.  By receiving immunity, that person may give testimony without having to worry that they are incriminating themselves.

Pleading the Fifth:  a witness who would otherwise be compelled to make a self-incriminating statement (i.e., in testimony under oath) may invoke the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals from being forced to self-incriminate themselves.  In a criminal case, the witness’s silence cannot be used against him or her to argue or imply guilt.   Pleading the Fifth in front of a jury may be risky because it can still damage the credibility of the witness.

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt:  the standard of proof the prosecution must meet in a criminal case. The standard of proof is the level of certainty each juror must have before determining that a defendant is guilty of a crime. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is a much higher standard than “more likely than not.” It is not enough for a juror to believe that the defendant committed the crime – rather, the juror must be certain, based on the evidence presented, that the defendant is guilty.

Stand Your Groundprovisions under self-defense laws that justify the use of deadly force under imminent threat of harm regardless of whether a safe retreat is possible. Imminent means happening very soon, not later in time. 

Self Defense: the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of the family from bodily harm from the attack of an aggressor, if the defender has reason to believe he/she/they is/are in danger.

Breakdown of Charges in the YSL Case:

  • RICO: RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. A violation of RICO occurs when a person, in connection with an enterprise, engages in a pattern of racketeering activity. Racketeering activity includes: Arson, Bribery, Counterfeiting, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, Embezzlement, Extortion, Gambling, Homicide, Kidnapping, Mail Fraud, Money Laundering, Robbery, Wire Fraud, and Witness Tampering.
  • Felony: a crime, typically one involving violence, regarded as more serious than a misdemeanor, and usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or by death.
  • Conspiracy: an agreement between two or more people to commit an illegal act, along with an intent to achieve the agreement’s goal.
  • Murder: 4 categories: (1) intentional murder; (2) a killing that resulted from the intent to do serious bodily injury; (3) a killing that resulted from a depraved heart or extreme recklessness; and (4) murder committed 
  • Armed robbery: aggravated form of theft that involves the use of a lethal weapon to perpetrate violence or the threat of violence 
  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon: For any assault to be considered assault with a deadly weapon, a deadly weapon must be used to carry out the assault. A deadly weapon is defined as a weapon that is readily able to cause death or a serious physical injury.
  • Possession of a firearm: the unlawful possession of a weapon by an individual.
  • Theft: the taking of another person’s personal property with the intent of depriving that person of the use of their property
  • Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act (VGCSA):  a VGSCA crime refers to such charges as: Possession of Marijuana; Possession of Cocaine; Possession of Methamphetamine. A VGCSA can carry a potential penalty of 2 to 15 years in prison for a first offense and 5 to 30 years in prison for a second and subsequent offense.

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