Being arrested in Florida is an unpleasant experience you won’t soon forget. Although an arrest does not automatically mean you are guilty of a crime, arrest records are public and may be discovered on the internet by your friends, family members, or employers. What can make matters worse is having your arrest photos posted online with your record, giving your arrest more weight.
In recent years, several websites have profited off of mugshots by extorting money from the individuals whose photos they posted online. They claim to remove mugshots in exchange for fees. Often, however, mugshots stick around after the arrested individuals paid to have them taken down. The truth of the matter is that it is nearly impossible to get your arrest pictures removed from all websites where they are posted. So, even if the first service removes the photos from their own website, it is unlikely they can get them taken down from other sites.
Today, the practice of soliciting payment for the removal of mugshots from the internet is illegal in Florida per Statute 901.43. Still, websites may try to charge you for taking your pictures off of their pages. If you come across these websites, it’s important to avoid their scam. Instead, contact a criminal defense lawyer for helpful advice on reducing the exposure of your arrest photos and restoring your reputation.
What You Need to Know About Mugshots
A mugshot is a photograph of a person’s face that is taken for official purposes, such as police records. They are usually taken after an arrest while the person is being booked. Your mugshot will only be taken if you’re officially arrested, not if you are simply being questioned by the police. If your charges are dropped, your mugshot may still exist as part of your public record. You will need to take steps to request the formal removal of your mugshot even if your charges are dropped.
Websites that display mugshots may legally do so because they are public record; however, any website that charges a fee to have these mugshots removed is performing an illegal operation. Although it may sound enticing to pay a fee to make your mugshots disappear, this is not what ends up happening. Often, these websites simply take your money or only remove your mugshot from their own website, leaving it on several others.
Therefore, you should not pay for these services. Instead, you should take measures to make it difficult to find your mugshot online. Here are your options for mitigating the impact of a mugshot and police record:
Seek Record Sealing or Expungement
If your charges are dropped, it may be possible to have your arrest records sealed or expunged. If you’re eligible, it may be possible to have all your criminal records taken out of the public eye. With a sealed or expunged record, you may have a better chance of succeeding when trying the following options.
Contact the Webmaster
The first step you can take to get your mugshot taken down is to communicate directly with the person responsible for managing the website that is showing your mugshot. If the website has a contact page or email address, reach out and find out if they may voluntarily remove your photo. This is generally the most effective method because, when a photo is physically removed from a website, it will no longer appear on it. If this does not work, you may be able to pursue legal action against the website. Additionally, you can also try the next option.
Suppress Your Mugshot
Another tactic is to try to keep your mugshot from appearing on page 1 of the search results. This method is a bit more tricky, but it’s more likely to work. Manipulating search results for the images that appear when you type in your name is a common marketing strategy that can also be applied to things like negative reviews. Create content that shows you in a positive light and is optimized for your name. Content can consist of other images of yourself. You might even accomplish this by creating a personal website. The more material you post to compete with your mugshot, the better your chances will be of pushing them to page 2.
Contact The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel
At The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel, we have helped people from all walks of life facing criminal charges preserve their reputations by providing competent and compassionate legal representation. Call Brian Gabriel at 561-622-5575 or complete a contact form to learn about how Brian can help you take charge of your arrest in West Palm Beach.