Laws About Releasing Mugshots Online
Are you ever been arrested? If the answer is yes, the odds are great that your mugshots and/or criminal information are online.
Mug shot photos and arrest information is considered public access regardless of whether the charges are true or not.
Most of the time the charge people accrue is dismissal, expungement, or dropped. However, they continue to struggle due to the mugshot publications police department or law enforcement agencies’ websites.
There have been no passed laws regarding releasing mugshots online. Since the arrest did occur, there are no grounds for slander or defamation.
Therefor, this leaves many individuals at the mercy of someone else.
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Who Publishes Mugshots Publicly?
Mugshots and arrest details are always made available to the public through the local county office(s). Most of the time you can locate these records on Google within minutes.
Although state police, the county sheriff, and state law enforcement websites do hold mug shots, the websites we typically see ranking favorable on Google are owned by individuals just like you.
This is essentially what happens in the following steps for how your mugshot makes its way to Google. Let’s take a look at the journey.
You get arrested and have a mugshot taken at the station
Your mugshot is then uploaded into the county database
These databases are updated and recrawled nearly every 24 hours
Next, third-party websites (i.e. Mugshots.com) will automatically copy and paste new recently added/updated information
This information is then compiled into an “arrest profile” on that third-party website
Next, the webmaster will publish & index said page into Google’s Search Console
Within 1-2 weeks Google will begin to recognize these new websites and rank them accordingly.
From this point, depending on who you are or what you did, it can spread like wildfire
So there are no laws about releasing mugshots directly to Facebook!
That is why is it imperative that you remain proactive when protecting yourself and your online reputation in 2020.
Guidelines for Publishing Booking Photos Online
When it comes to publishing and distributing mug shots online there are not many laws or state ordinances in place to stop you.
As long as the information is published while the arrest is considered public access there is no legal obligation for any domain to legal remove it.
But what if my case was dismissed or expunged? Some sites will bend at the knee and remove your arrest profile from their domain if you email them a copy of your dismissal/expungement.
However, the average arrestee is found on an average of 5-10 different websites. So the odds that all of them remove pro-bono is nearly impossible.
More so, there are specific law enforcement purposes for demanding the removal of a mugshot. These exclusions include minors, top-level government officials, and high ranking members of our armed forces.
Due to the Freedom of Information Law, there are zero restrictions set forth onto mugshot publication websites.
Unfortunately, nowadays this has side railed the industry into a profit mongering seat pool of greedy individuals looking to make a quick buck on tarnishing your online reputation.
Overview: Freedom of Information Law (Laws About Releasing Mugshots)
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a governmental law that has stood in existence dating back to 1966.
The FOIA is the law that allows the people the power to examine and reproduce any and all records generated by Federal agencies. This goes for all departments within the executive branch of our government.
In 1996, the FOIA was altered to permit people to gain more access to digital records and data.
Furthermore, the revisions made to the law became recognized as the Electronic Freedom of Information Act (E-FOIA).
In order to receive this data all someone is expected to do is register an FOIA application.
Nevertheless, please note that while they can file a request the information is for the most part freely accessible, but securing the data is ordinarily not free.
Exemptions to the Freedom Of Information Act.
- Data listed as matters of national security or foreign policy.
- Internal agency systems and organization practices.
- Any knowledge that has been explicitly excused from a different law.
- Trade mysteries, financial data, or business reviews that have been collected from a person and is exempt or confidential.
- Documents that would be deemed an intrusion of personal privacy, such as personnel, medicinal, and other related reports.
- Studies or other data that has been received during law enforcement purposes.
- Erudition on financial companies with respect to their actions, research, or status.