The Commonwealth's Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (the Act) commenced on 1 January 2003. The Act provides a scheme to trace, restrain and confiscate the proceeds of certain classes of crime against Commonwealth law. In some circumstances it can also be used to confiscate the proceeds of crime against foreign law or the proceeds of crime against state law (if those proceeds have been used in a way that contravenes Commonwealth law). Importantly, confiscation does not always require that a person has been actually convicted of a crime.
Recently, there has been significant interest in the provisions of the Act that allow for the confiscation of profits made by a person for selling, publishing or otherwise telling his or her story. Interest in the cases of Mark 'Chopper' Reid, Schapelle Corby and David Hicks has raised questions about the applicability of the existing proceeds of crime laws (including state and territory laws) to people who have profited, or may profit in the future, from their criminal notoriety through book, magazine, film or television deals.
This Background Note explores the provisions that allow for the confiscation of profits that are obtained from a person's sale or publication of his or her story.