Though people love to poke fun at celebrity mugshots that they see online, the truth is that the photos themselves are incredibly embarrassing to their subjects. Often, after a mugshot has been taken, it’s considered public information and stays up. Luckily, there are a few cases in which a mugshot might have to be taken down or removed from the internet, though these do vary between jurisdictions.
Contact the Website Directly
Since mugshots are considered public domain in many areas, websites typically don’t require any consent to post them at their leisure. There are specific laws for some states about the usage of mugshot (Volusia county mugshots from Florida might have different regulations than, say, Omaha, Nebraska) but many states simply don’t offer any direct legal guidance. Many times, you’ll be on your own when it comes to removal.
If you’ve found your mugshot on a website, your best bet is to attempt to get in contact with the webmaster. With any luck, the website in question will have a contact form or direct email link. For sites that don’t offer up contact information as easily, try to find comments sections or social media pages for the website. Many times, with a kind request, webmasters will take down mugshots voluntarily. This is one of the best options as it removes the photograph from the page instead of suppressing it on a search engine.
Go to Google
In some cases, you can request specific search engines to suppress images. This can be a useful tactic if you’re unsuccessful in reaching out to a webmaster. Google is often willing to remove certain images and information for legal reasons. However, since your mugshot is usually considered public domain, search engines don’t have any concrete incentive to remove it. While it’s always worth a shot, this method has a lower success rate.
This is a more difficult path as it requires your specific case to fall within some strict legal boundaries. Expungement is often only effective if you were charged with or convicted of a more minor offense. Expungements also frequently require that a set amount of time has passed since your incident and that there have been no further offenses in the interim. To find out the specific requirements of expungement in your jurisdiction, you can often find the information on correctional facility websites.
Most commonly, you need to file a petition with the local courts to have your records sealed or expunged. If you’re successful, you’ll receive an order of expungement and the details of your incident will be removed. You can often take the order of expungement to the website where your mugshot is posted and request they take it down. Depending on the state, you may be able to request a court order requiring the website to remove the image.
Keep in mind that requesting an expungement can be a timely affair. In some cases, you’ll want to retain legal counsel to help navigate the process. There are often also associated fees for sealing records so you need to be financially prepared if you’re going to seek expungement. Typically, the fees aren’t exorbitant but they can certainly put a dent in your wallet if you haven’t been saving up.
Removing a mugshot from the internet can help you overcome the stigma of a prior arrest or offense. It’s a step towards feeling like yourself again and can be incredibly liberating. While there are some tools at your disposal, it’s important to note that mugshot removal takes time and patience. As long as you keep trying, you’ll hopefully see positive results.