187 (slang)

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Section 187 (often referred to in slang simply as 187) of the California Penal Code defines the crime of murder. The number is commonly pronounced by reading the digits separately as "one-eight-seven", or "one-eighty-seven", rather than "one hundred eighty-seven".

The number "187" has been used by gangs throughout the United States and elsewhere as a synonym for murder; this usage has been documented in Florida,[1] Wisconsin,[2] the United Kingdom,[3] Germany[4] and Norway.[5] It also features widely in hip-hop culture, such as in Dr. Dre's "Deep Cover".

California Penal Code Section 187[edit]

California Penal Code section 187, subdivision (a) defines murder as "the unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought". Subdivision (b) states that subdivision (a) does "not apply to any person who commits an act that results in the death of a fetus if any of the following apply: (1) The act complied with the Therapeutic Abortion Act [citation]. (2) The act was committed by a holder of a physician's and surgeon's certificate [citation], in a case where, to a medical certainty, the result of childbirth would be death of the mother of the fetus or where her death from childbirth, although not medically certain, would be substantially certain or more likely than not. (3) The act was solicited, aided, abetted, or consented to by the mother of the fetus."[6]

In California, suspects are usually charged by reference to one or more Penal Code (PC) sections. Thus, the charging documents for a suspect charged with murder would be inscribed with "PC 187(a)" or just "PC 187". If a suspect is charged with attempted murder, then the relevant code would be "PC 664/187" because attempt is defined in Penal Code section 664.[7]

Under the California Uniform Bail Schedule, the standard bail for murder is $750,000.[7] The standard bail for first-degree murder with special circumstances (that is, circumstances under which the district attorney is seeking the death penalty) is "NO BAIL".[7]

Notable uses[edit]

In the song "April 29, 1992 (Miami)" by Sublime, Bradley Nowell used the lyrics "And screamin' 1-8-7 on a motherfuckin' cop," alluding to Dr. Dre's song. The lyrics are related to the riots that ensued after the video evidence and eyewitnesses of police brutality, the beating of Rodney King and the violence that was evident during that year.[8][9]

In the 1999 movie Magnolia, police officer Jim Kurring (played by John C. Reilly), thinking Claudia (played by Melora Walters) is involved in a situation domestic abuse, remarks that things can often go bad if the victim does not speak up, and he does not want to come out to a "one eighty-seven", a reference that Claudia does not understand, but he does not elaborate.

In the 2002 EP From the Depths of Dreams by the post-hardcore band Senses Fail, there is a track titled "One Eight Seven", with subject matter surrounding murder. It was one of their better known songs, but the band retired it from their live sets in 2013 due to the lyrical themes and Buddy Neilsen feeling that he had personally moved on from the song. In 2019, the band re-imagined From the Depths of Dreams including the song "One Eight Seven", which they had not played live in over five years.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Scarcella, Michael A. (August 13, 2005). "Rival gangs shoot it out: Manatee cracks down as violence escalates". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. p. A1.
  2. ^ Hall, Andy (June 19, 2005). "A Primer on Local Gangs". Wisconsin State Journal. p. A12. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012.
  3. ^ Scheerhout, John (April 2, 2012). ""You thought I was joking": Facebook fury of jealous knifeman who stabbed 74-year-old woman at Chorlton bus stop". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved May 15, 2012.
  4. ^ Bromberg, Wiebe (February 22, 2011). "Messer-Angriff in der Sternschanze: Attacke im Florapark: Es ging um eine Frau" [Knife assault in the Sternschanze: Attack in the Flora Park: It was about a woman]. Hamburger Morgenpost (in German). Archived from the original on June 16, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2020. [...] the perpetrator belongs to the "187" gang.
  5. ^ NTB, Mario Andrés Neira Torres (January 19, 2021). "23-åring dømt til fengsel for trusler mot Frp-politiker Jon Helgheim". Nettavisen (in Norwegian). Retrieved January 19, 2021.
  6. ^ "California Penal Code Section 187". California Penal Code. California State Legislature. Retrieved October 25, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c For examples of this, see the Felony Bail Schedule, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Cruz.
  8. ^ "Rodney King Video of Beating Helped Drive Revolution". Huffingtonpost.com. March 3, 1991. Archived from the original on June 19, 2012. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  9. ^ "April 29th 1992 – 25 Years Later – Long Beach Riots & Sublime's Account of the Events Memorialized In Song". legendaryrockinterviews.com. April 29, 2017.
  10. ^ "Senses Fail on Twitter: We will be officially retiring 187 tomorrow night in New Jersey. It is where the song was born and it is where it will be put to rest". May 10, 2013.

External links[edit]