Senator Flanagan's Legislation To Expand Son Of Sam Protection Passes Senate

John J. Flanagan

June 21, 2006

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced today that legislation he sponsored to protect the rights of crime victims has passed the Senate. The legislation would prohibit all persons who are held responsible for a crime from profiting from their crimes regardless of their plea or conviction.

Senator Flanagan's legislation would close a loophole in the original Son of Sam law, which prevented David Berkowitz, dubbed the Son of Sam during his killing spree in 1977, from profiting from his crime. This loophole currently allows defendants who are found or take a plea of not responsible by reason of mental disease or defect to avoid the reach of this landmark law.

With the change advocated by Senator Flanagan, anyone who is found responsible for a crime throughout New York State would have to adhere to the rules of the Son of Sam law. The need for Senator Flanagan's legislation to strengthen to the Son of Sam law has become more evident with the recent growth of "murder memorabilia" in the retail market, which includes manufactured items representing criminals and their crimes. This growing market includes items with the likeness of Charles Manson, John Wayne Gacy and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

The Son of Sam law was designed to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes through the commercial exploitation of their stories. According to the law, any money that could potentially be earned by a criminal due to the commission of a crime would first be used to compensate their victim and others who have the right to sue under to the law.

To satisfy this law, any entity that enters into a contract with anyone who is accused or convicted of a crime would have to supply a copy of the contract to the Crime Victims Compensation Board. They would have to deliver any money owed according to the contract to the board for placement in an escrow account for five years.

If a victim or interested person who has standing were to successfully sue a perpetrator, the money that was placed in the escrow account would be used to satisfy any judgment. If no victims were brought within the five year period, the Crime Victims Compensation Board would be required to provide the funds to the accused.

The success and commonsense approach of New York State's Son of Sam law has led over 40 states and the federal government to enact similar laws.

"This needed improvement to the Son of Sam law will allow crime victims to prevent criminals from making money off of their suffering. No one should be allowed to benefit from committing a crime and this legislation will give the power to the victim instead of the criminal," stated Senator Flanagan. "I urge the Assembly to join the Senate in taking the profit out of lawlessness."