The Arrest and Your Mugshot..
When you got arrested for an offense, regardless of its severity, you will need to undergo the normal arrest procedures, and one of them is taking a mugshot. A mugshot is your identification photo in full face and profile angles, while you hold a black placard with your name on it. This identification photo is used by police officers for future reference and to book your registration with the court and is considered a public information.
Although several national arguments have been brought up about publicizing a mugshot, this photo is still public property and should be accessible to anyone without your permission by law. That said, your mugshot along with others, are made available in the Jailhouse database and public sources like websites.
Is Your Mugshot a Life Punishment?
Since it’s public, it can end up anywhere from tabloids, TV stations, bulletin boards, and all over the internet. Imagine how stigmatizing and embarrassing this is for you, your family, and most especially your kids. You can even try to search Google, and don’t be surprised to find your arrest information among the top searches, which usually came from mugshot websites. It does not matter whether your case has been dismissed or not, once your mugshot has been taken, it is now public property.
No matter how frustrating it is that your mugshots are view able by anyone, even if your case has been dismissed or the court has found you innocent, don’t lose hope.
There are a number of ways to take your mugshot down, what’s important is that you know two things:
NO, your mugshot isn’t necessarily a life punishment.
YES, you can take your photo down from the public eyes.
How Do You Take your Mugshot Down?
#1 – ‘Petition to Expunge’
You can file a Petition to Expunge, which is technically a request to have your record sealed and removed from public access, through the state’s Justice Department. You will need to file the paperwork for the petition to the court and it may take several steps to complete.
Expungement eligibility in the United States varies by state and by the nature of the offense that was charged against you. Generally, criminal charges such as murder, felonies, rape, and the like are ineligible for the petition. You must contact the local court website that handled your case to check if your case is permitted to apply for this petition. When eligible, you can file a petition usually by downloading the form from their site.
Ultimately, it is the judge to decide on whether your petition is granted or denied, and once granted, this will effectively take down your mugshot, along with all the charge information available from the public access.
#2 – Get a Private Lawyer
If you cannot put up to the quite lengthy Expungement proceedings, you can always hire a private lawyer to help you write a demand letter to the mugshot website, for your photo to be taken down. Your attorney would usually create a threat letter to sue the website for privacy claim and demands for your information to be barred from their site. However, you must remember that legally speaking, unless you have been awarded for Expungement, your information
is a public property and that filing a lawsuit won’t typically guarantee that your information will be ceased from being shared on the world wide web.
#3 – Contact Mugshot Removal Sites
If you want the easiest and fastest option to take down your photos from these nasty mugshot websites, you can get help from several removal sites with a high price tag. They are claiming to have the “proprietary” takedown tools to remove your information from these mugshot sites in almost an instant. The price ranges from approximately $100+ to less than $1,000 for the removal sites to “fight” and bury back your past charges. They are boasting their affiliation and appropriate tools to effectively remove your information from these mugshot sites if you are eligible for the service.
Many advocates have been fighting against these for-profit practices, though, due to the embarrassment these causes the individuals involved, and quite a way of extorting them. While mugshot websites are technically legal because they are merely mirroring the jail database information, its purpose of embarrassing those who are involved is so sick and exploits people in a very unfair way.
According to Steven Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, these businesses seems to generate embarrassment to the involved individuals, then offers to remove the source of embarrassment for a fee, and it becomes a practice of exploitation.
#4 – Contact Mugshot Sites Directly
Many websites that post mugshots in hopes to gain search engine traffic have a page in the navigation menu to request removal. Click on this link and contact the webmaster of the mugshot site. Be stern but not offensive and politely request removal of your mugshot. Provide them with the exact URLs where your photo appears and screen shots of the search engine results. If you do not hear back keep trying. Also, lookup the webmasters contact information on WHOis sites as a last resort. Be relentless if need be and threaten legal action.