After you're arrested, your mug shot may appear on any number of websites -- even if you weren't convicted of any crime. So how do you get your online mug shot removed?
An arrest can follow you for the rest of your life and put a permanent blemish on your record. Even if you were innocent, or have paid your dues, that initial photo taken during the booking process can often still be seen on many sites that post mug shots.
The problem is that posting mug shots, which are considered public records, is legal. So, is it actually possible to get your mug shot taken down? If so, how?
While the following information does not serve as a guaranteed how-to guide, it will hopefully provide some direction with some useful tips on how the removal process can be possibly be achieved.
Check the Site Carefully.
The website where your mug shot is posted will likely have an FAQ or section detailing the removal process.
Most, if not all, of the time, your mug shot can be removed by paying a fee. Granted, it is a murky area of law when it comes to the rights of third parties (i.e., websites) to profit off of the posting (and removal) of mug shots, and some mug shot websites have been sued. Still, paying the site off is one quick, but potentially costly, way to go about it.
Has your criminal record or charge been expunged? It may be helpful to alert the websites of your expungement, if your records have been sealed.
Expungement is the process of legally erasing the arrest from your record. There are a number of steps to go about doing this, and eligbility varies by state, but all successful cases ensure that your record is properly sealed.
While many of these websites will often claim that your photo is posted for the purpose of providing "news," they will be more likely to remove it if there is no public record of your arrest anymore. Many will have a list of requirements needed to get your photo removed for free, and expungement is usually one of them.
Talk to an Attorney.
Having your mug shot floating around in cyberspace could potentially have negative effects when it comes to prospective employers and anyone else who decides to Google you for whatever reason. In some cases, there may be complex questions that require professional advice and personal attention. Thankfully there are many lawyers who have direct experience with this type of situation, whether it's regarding your possible expungement or a copyright issue with the use of your photo. You can browse our online directory to find a lawyer near you.
- How People Profit from Your Online Mug Shot and Ruin Your Life Forever (Gizmodo)
- Got Priors? How to Expunge Criminal Records (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Legal How-To: Writing an Online Takedown Notice (FindLaw's Injured)
- Patrick Tribett Sues Those Turning Gold Mugshot into Mugshot Gold (FindLaw's Legally Weird)