YoungBoy Never Broke Again Found Not Guilty in California Gun Case

NBA YoungBoy Found Not Guilty in L.A. Gun Trial: ‘I’m Feeling Great’

JUST IN: NBA Youngboy was found NOT GUILTY for California gun charge 😳‼️

YoungBoy Never Broke Again, born Kentrell D. Gaulden, was found not guilty on Friday of having a handgun and ammunition as a felon, bringing one of the two federal firearms cases he had been facing to a close.

On the second day of deliberations, a jury in Los Angeles made a decision after nearly two hours of discussion. Mr. Gaulden, also known as NBA YoungBoy or YB to fans, faced up to ten years in jail in the case.

The California gun possession accusation arose from YoungBoy's arrest in the Los Angeles region in March 2021 on a different federal gun possession warrant from an earlier incident in the rapper's home state of Louisiana. YoungBoy was one of 16 persons accused of having firearms and narcotics during a video shoot in Baton Rouge in September 2020. According to his lawyers, none of the contraband was in his hands.

Prosecutors in the Central District of California stated that when authorities attempted to execute the warrant, in that case, YoungBoy first appeared to cooperate, pulling over his Mercedes Maybach before fleeing on a "high-speed pursuit." Police discovered an FNX.45 caliber weapon and ammo, as well as cash and jewelry, beneath the front passenger's seat after the rapper escaped on foot.

YoungBoy's lawyers claimed that the rapper was unaware of his outstanding federal warrant at the time and panicked when armed officers approached his vehicle, prompting him to flee. They claimed he had no idea the weapon was in the car and that no usable fingerprints or DNA linked YoungBoy to the gun.

Prosecutors attempted to link the rapper to the weapon by using a social media photo and video of YoungBoy holding "a gold and tan pistol that seemed identical to the rifle discovered from his car," according to court filings. They said that the shot was taken at the same Philadelphia store that sold YoungBoy the jewelry found in the automobile. 

According to the rapper's lawyers, the gun was similar to an airsoft replica and could not be proved to be the same firearm.“We believe the evidence presented in this case supported the charges brought by the grand jury,” Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles, said in a statement. “While we are disappointed with the verdict, we respect the jury’s decision.”

The judge in the case, R. Gary Klausner, decided on Tuesday that lyrics from three YoungBoy songs could not be used in court. Prosecutors said that the songs, titled "Gunsmoke," "Life Support," and "Lonely Child," were about "an individual associated with the purchaser of the gun, the pistol model discovered in his car, and the jewelry creator of the jewelry found next to the gun."

However, the rapper's attorneys successfully claimed that the "hardcore" and "very inflammatory" rap lyrics would be detrimental and not directly relevant, given that the song describing an FN handgun was published before the FN gun was retrieved from the Maybach.

“It’s for entertainment,” they wrote in a court filing. “It is not an admission of other bad acts but it does paint the rappers in a bad light and the jury may infer from the song that Mr. Gaulden is a violent person and take those feelings with them into the deliberation room.” The rapper’s lawyers added: “The real issues are: 1) whether he knew the gun was inside of the car and 2) whether he intended to possess it. It’s a relatively simple case.”

YoungBoy, known for his gritty reality rap, prolific production, and fanatical internet fan following, is one of the most-streamed musicians in the United States this year, vying with Drake and Taylor Swift. He has repeatedly topped the Billboard album list since signing a $2 million deal with Atlantic Records in 2016, reaching No. 1 with four releases in less than two years, but he remains mostly outside the mainstream entertainment sector, owing in part to ongoing legal concerns.

YoungBoy pled guilty to aggravated assault with a handgun in 2017 and was sentenced to a suspended 10-year prison term plus probation for his participation in a non-fatal drive-by shooting for which he was originally charged with attempted first-degree murder. Following several arrests, including one for domestic abuse in which he pled guilty to misdemeanor assault, the rapper was sentenced to 90 days in jail in 2019.

YoungBoy has been under home confinement in Utah since October when he was given a $500,000 bond on federal firearms charges, where he has continued to produce and distribute songs.

YoungBoy's federal firearms prosecution in Louisiana is still underway. His attorneys have contended that he was unfairly targeted, citing the name of one of law enforcement's operations: Never Free Again, which is "a clear take-off on Gaulden's immensely successful music and marketing brand." The rapper's legal team was successful in suppressing video evidence in the case that it said was obtained illegally.

According to his attorneys, the rapper's arrest in Los Angeles last year was a "huge and grossly unnecessary military exhibition of force and intimidation."