Removing Internet Mugshots

Every year I typically receive numerous inquiries about how to remove internet mugshots posted by commercial entities.  And, every year before this my answer unfortunately was you could try paying a company, oftentimes an affiliate of the posting entity, to remove your mugshot.  Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn’t.

There is good news this year, however, for those wishing to remove their jail mugshots from the internet.  In 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a bill into law requiring websites that publish mug shots to take them down upon the request of the person pictured.  The new law, which takes effect July 1, 2018 also prohibits companies from collecting a fee to remove mug shots.

The new law applies only to websites that charge a fee for the removal of jail mug shots.  The law  also requires the removal of mug shots without charge within 10 days of a written request.

The mug shot law was proposed as Senate Bill 118 by Senator Greg Steube, R-Sarasota.  According to an article in The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Senator Steube explained in a telephone interview that Bill 118 is intended to help people who have had their criminal records sealed or expunged but are charged as much as $2,500 by privately run websites to remove their photos.  “The operators of these websites are leaving their mug shots up and extorting money to remove their mug shots,” Steube said.

A website’s operator could face a fine of up to $1,000 per day plus attorney fees and court cost related to enforcing a court order to remove the mug shots for failure to remove a mug shot within 10 days of receiving a written request by registered mail with sufficient proof of the identity of the requester.

Many commentators have stated the new law applies only to those persons not convicted of the offense for which their mugshot is posted.  That is incorrect.  Rather, as written, the new law plainly applies to all persons whose mugshots appear on websites accepting fees to remove the picture, regardless of whether their case resulted in a conviction.

Proponents of the new law believe it is directed at companies who keep photos of innocent people online forever, harming their reputation in the event someone does a Google search on them. To charge a fee to remove the photo under those circumstances is a form of ransom, according to them.

The new law is overall good news for those with their mugshots on the internet.  It is important to note, however, the law will not apply to entities that do not charge fees to remove the mug shots, such as newspapers who sometimes archive mugshot photos on their websites.

If posted on the internet, your jail mugshot can adversely affect your current and future employment, professional and educational opportunities, and interpersonal relationships.  While in the past there was little, if anything you could do about it, come July 1, 2018 you will be able to force the removal of your internet mugshot should you desire to do so.

If you or a loved one has their mugshot posted on the internet, you should contact a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer experienced with how best to effect the removal of such damaging information arising from your case in Duval, Clay, Nassau, Baker, Bradford, Putnam and St. Johns Counties.

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