Online Publication of Mugshots in Florida
A mugshot (also known as a mug shot, police photograph, or booking photograph) is a photographic portrait taken of a defendant by the police department after the defendant has been arrested and is in police custody. Typically, the arrestee will take one front-view photo and one-side view photo. The purpose of a mugshot is to provide law enforcement with a photographic database of all arrested individuals, which is then often used by victims and investigators for identification purposes.
Florida mugshots have always been a matter of public record. But before the Internet and widespread Google searching came in and changed the nature of the “game”, if you wanted to search for a person’s mugshot, you had to visit the arresting police department in person and make a public records request. Currently, Florida’s broad public record laws allow for the online publication of Florida mugshots by online companies unaffiliated with law enforcement agencies such as the popular site Florida Mugshots, which has an online searchable database of more than 4 million Florida mugshots with 1,500 new mugshots added daily.
While there are online reputation management companies such as RemoveSlander* that will work with non-law enforcement sites such as Florida Mugshots to remove your mugshot from the site, fees run from $399 for removal of your mugshot from one mugshot site to $1299 for removal of your mugshot from six different mugshot sites. And just because you get your mugshot removed from certain sites through a paid removal service doesn’t mean that your mugshot is not going to pop up on a different mugshot site or sites in the future (in fact, it’s pretty much a given that this is going to happen at some point or another); moreover, there’s currently no way to pay or request to get your mugshot removed from a law enforcement-managed website or the searchable physical public records database at the arresting police department.
Think the emerging cottage industry peddling jail mugshots (and the resulting online mugshot removal/online reputation management industry) is a sleazy exploitation of our state’s public records laws? Well you’re not alone—Florida legislator Carl Zimmerman thinks so too. So much so that in February 2013, Zimmerman filed a bill (House Bill 677) seeking to end these “mugshot websites.” The bill proposed a new Florida statute that would require the operators of websites containing the name and personal information of persons charged with crimes, including any photograph or digital image, to remove the person’s name and personal information if the person is acquitted or the charges are dropped or otherwise resolved without a conviction. The removal of such information must be without charge to the person. Failure of the website operator to remove the person’s name or personal information shall result in a civil penalty of $100 per instance per week and, after 45 days, creates a presumption of defamation of character of the person.
Have you been arrested in South Florida and have your mugshot posted on the Web? If so, a Miami criminal attorney or Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney at the South Florida law firm of Galanter Law can both advise you on how to best manage your online reputation and minimize the fallout stemming from the publication of your mugshot and provide you with experienced and knowledgeable legal representation for your criminal charges.
The Law Offices of Yale L. Galanter, P.A. is experienced in:
Contact the Miami law offices of Yale Galanter at (305) 576-0244 or (954) 524-6600 or browse through the rest of our site.
*Note: Galanter Law is not affiliated with RemoveSlander and in no way endorses its services.