The Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

An Open Letter to Matt Barnes About Threatening Cops

Matty B, let's start this off by saying that the true Lakers fans are going to miss you. You've graced the Los Angeles basketball scene with hustle, great cutting to the basket, and tenacious defense for the past couple of years. Not bringing you back is a mistake, especially with a true point guard coming in that could capitalize on your off-ball movement.

You know what else was a mistake? Threatening that cop. Sorry, allegedly threatening that cop, if the report from KTLA is true. Sure, it was absolute bull that the cops reportedly just ran across you in Manhattan Beach and then realized that you had an outstanding traffic warrant for over $23,000 -- but threats of violence? Never a good game plan.

Quick question: how in the Milwaukee Bucks-themed hell did you manage to get a $23,000 fine for driving on a suspended license?

Anyway, let's get back to your discussion of the matter with the police officers. We'll preface all of this by saying, this is not legal advice. Seek the assistance of counsel. This is simply an exercise in legal-nerdom.

Here's what you're facing. A conviction under California Penal Code Section 71 carries a penalty of up to $10,000 in fines and/or imprisonment of up to one year.

However, in order to be convicted, it has to be "reasonably apparent" that you could actually do that which you threatened. So, if you threatened to kill the cop, they'd have to think that you could do it. If you were in cuffs, or simply talking out of your rear, the charge probably won't stick.

Matt Barnes Kill You Shirt

Image Courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Besides, we know you didn't mean it. You're too much of a nice guy to hurt anyone. You were probably just reading your shirt and the cop got confused. Besides, once in a while, you just need to express yourself to law enforcement. We get it.

In the meantime, we'll keep our fingers crossed that the Lakers wise up and bring you back. If not, hopefully someone will, as you were a joy to watch for the past couple of seasons.

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