Murderers and others convicted of serious crimes will not be able to profit from their crimes through memoirs or memorabilia and inflict further anguish on their victims and families, under proposed legislation introduced today.
If passed, the Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act will target those who attempt to benefit from the sale of their stories in any written or broadcast form, or from memorabilia related to their crimes. Any money would instead be required to be paid to the Province for redistribution to victims or their families, with any surplus amounts used to support victim services.
The proposed legislation will:
- Require that parties that enter into a verbal or written contract for recounting of a notorious crime notify government about its terms.
- Prohibit a person from providing or accepting money or other consideration under such contracts for recounting of a notorious crime.
- Allow government to apply to court to take profits from sale of crime-related memorabilia.
- Prevent offenders from assigning rights to another person, like a spouse, friend or relative.
The act will apply to criminals convicted of serious or violent crimes, such as murder, sexual offences, child exploitation, and kidnapping, drug trafficking or trafficking in persons. It’s also designed to be retrospective, applying to contracts signed since Jan. 1, 2001. For constitutional reasons, the act cannot ban a criminal from telling his or her stories – only from receiving a financial gain as a result.
The new legislation follows public outrage and swift action earlier this year in the wake of news that B.C. serial killer Robert Pickton had published a book under a pseudonym and it was selling online. Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia have similar legislation.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Morris –
“The day I first learned of the Pickton book, I was determined no one would make a nickel from Robert Pickton’s crimes. This legislation is a swift, thorough response to that book. We have derailed any plans to profit from it. The act will also help ensure no other notorious or violent criminals can profit from the hurt they have caused.”
Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton –
“Convicted criminals should not profit from re-telling their crimes. Not only does it re-victimize, it is contrary to the fundamental principles of our society’s values. Our government has introduced this legislation to prohibit those convicted of the most serious offences from profiting from their crimes and to clearly and unequivocally denounce this reprehensible behaviour on behalf of British Columbians.”
Carolyn Sinclair, executive director, Police Victims Services of British Columbia –
“When there is an appetite for one side of a sad story told from an offender’s perspective, the victims and those impacted are often re-victimized, both by what the offender has to say and the public’s curiosity. Those who have caused harm and are paying for their crimes should not be permitted to profit financially or emotionally from the trauma they have created.”
- The act will apply where there is a substantive B.C. connection, such as the crime occurred in the province or, if it occurred elsewhere, the criminal receiving payment is a resident of B.C. or is serving a custodial sentence in the province.
- This law applies retrospectively to any contracts entered into after Jan. 1, 2001.
- Saskatchewan’s Profits of Criminal Notoriety Act, in force since 2009, responded to convicted wife-killer Colin Thatcher’s plan to write a book. The act has since withstood a court challenge.
Learn about Resources for Victims of Crime including VictimLinkBC: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/victims-of-crime/victimlinkbc