Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal


Kelly Franks


The United States Supreme Court recently found New York's Son of Sam law to be a content-based financial burden on speech in violation of the first amendment. The law prohibited any payment to a criminal in exchange for the personal account of his crime, and required that such payments be distributed to the victims of the crime instead. The decision affects similar laws in forty-two other states and the federal government. This note explains the background of New York's Son of Sam law, and examines the case that led to its demise. The author argues that having criminals compensate their victims is a good objective, and proposes rewriting Son of Sam laws that not only will conform to the language and reasoning of the Court's opinion, but will also provide more effective reparation for crime victims.