Son of Sam Law Law and Legal Definition

A Statute that prevents a convicted criminal from profiting by selling his/her story rights to a publisher or movie maker, usually by authorizing prosecutors to seize royalties from convicted criminals and to place the money in an escrow account for the crime victim's benefit. The law gets it name from David Berkowitz; a New York serial killer who left a note signed "Son of Sam" at his crime scenes. The law first came in to effect in 1977 in New York. Since 1977 forty-two states and the federal government have enacted various types of Son of Sam laws that take any proceeds a criminal earns from selling the story of his/her crime and gives them to a victims' compensation fund. In 1991, the U.S Supreme Court declared the New York's Son of Sam law unconstitutional as a content-based speech regulation. Ever since the 1991 decision, many states have amended their Son of Sam laws in order to avoid constitutionality issues.