Lets say that I wanted to write an autobiography but some elements of my life (particularly relevant to certain choice) are illegal and I could still be prosecuted for them if my involvement became public knowledge.

How would I be able to get an autobiography like this published and still remain free from prosecution?

  • 3
    Sometimes crimes cannot be prosecuted after a certain time. So call a lawyer and let them check if this works for you. Otherwise, accept the consequences of your crimes or don't talk about it. You cannot have both.
    – Matt
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 18:36
  • 4
    I’m voting to close this question because it is more of a legal question than a writing question.
    – rolfedh
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 22:18
  • 2
    Man, I don't know what to do - Say it wasn't you
    – Alexander
    Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 18:09
  • @Alexander Or, stick to speaking hypothetically... Commented Jul 16, 2020 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


As a practicing attorney myself, everything people have said regarding contacting an attorney first, particularly one that deals with criminal law, is the best advice.

If you are contacting the attorney regarding crimes you have committed or been an accessory to, you have the attorney-client privilege, and the attorney cannot discuss it with anyone but you.

If it is about a crime you are committing, or contemplate engaging, the attorney is bound to report it. Refer to the situation in hypotheticals and figure out where the hypothetical person has is legal liability before you relate in real terms.

Some crimes, like sexual crimes, especially if they involve minors, can have federal implications. Tax and property crimes can have long periods of liability. Even if you write fiction, as someone indicated earlier, a hotdog prosecutor might link you to the fictional character.



Isn’t that what pseudonyms are essentially for? Otherwise write it as a fiction novel.

But if you really want your real name to be attached to a true story... well, who would bother prosecuting you? You think that law enforcement officers have nothing better to do than comb through memoirs to find evidence of illegal activities? ....

Of course if your book becomes a bestseller, a young prosecutor may want to try to go after you to hitch on the celebrity bandwagon, or if your crime is very serious and would involve a homicide investigation or the FBI interest, then no don’t write it, or at least get it published posthumously...

But chances are nobody would care anyways.


In your situation since the crime seems serious better not write it...

Anyways who reads autobiographies?

Not to be negative, but if you are not in a very unique situation, or a unique person like a Geisha, or lived something truly extraordinary, or famous already...

I can’t see more than a few dozen people, if that, ever reading it if you publish it online.

If the writing itself is cathartic, or would help you figure things out, then write it for yourself and don’t publish it, or do a vanity publication

I think it is better if you took some of those elements that shaped you and integrated them in purely fictional works like most authors do.

  • If it's related to a crime, lets say a homicide investigation, wouldn't the pseudonym still link back to me for the authorities? What genre would an autobiography pretending to be fiction go in to?
    – Lady_A
    Commented Jul 14, 2020 at 21:00
  • I think they would need a court order to lift the anonymity of a nom de plume, if it is set properly with an agent/publisher, if it is just you with KDP yes that’s easy to find Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 8:36
  • A fictional autobiography Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 8:39
  • Look up fictional autobiography on the net or read litreactor.com/columns/… Commented Jul 15, 2020 at 8:40

I think this is strictly a legal matter, specifically laws on whether or not an autobiography can be considered testimony. That may vary by your location.

Definitely look for that on a law site though.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.