Should You Pay to Remove Your Mugshot?
Articles in the popular press regarding the mugshot industry often follow the formula used in this piece in The Register Guard. Here, the writer begins with the story of a person who was arrested many years ago, and who has a mugshot reminder of that arrest circulating on the web. In articles like this, the author outlines how the person’s life has been harmed by the mugshot, and then, the author suggests that companies who charge for mugshot removal are somehow infringing on the rights of people who see their shots online.
We’re not sure that this is a true and valid assessment. In fact, we think there are good reasons for people to pay for mugshot removal services. If you’ve been arrested, you might find that mugshot removal companies provide you with the kind of relief you’d be hard pressed to get in any other way.
Mugshots are, as we’ve mentioned on this website many times, part of the public domain. This means most states allow anyone at all to ask for copies of a mugshot, and most public officials can’t deny that request. This sort of openness stems from open-access laws that were designed to give regular voters access to the documents generated by public officials. With openness comes honesty,activists claim, and removing that access could lead to situations in which officials hide behind closed doors and do things they really shouldn’t be doing. There’s really no way that these laws will fade away, regardless of the damage they might do to the reputations of individuals. Suggesting that mugshots should be private really isn’t tenable, when people demand an open government.
Some people claim that they shouldn’t pay for mugshot removal services because lawmakers are drafting up legislation that will, in time, put the industry out of business. While it’s true that legislators in Oregon, Georgia and others are working on the mugshot problem, these laws might not protect everyone who appears on these sites. In Oregon, for example, legislation would only protect people who have been acquitted of their crimes. Those who took plea deals or pled guilty would get no break at all.
So if consumers can’t rely on the governmental agencies to protect the privacy of their mugshots, and if they won’t be protected by mugshot laws currently in development, what are they to do? Without the help of private industry, people like this might be doomed, seeing their mugshots appear day after day with no solution available that might help.
We don’t want to see that happen. That’s why we’ve developed a series of solutions for people who have been targeted by mugshot websites. With our help, you can remove a mugshot immediately, and we’ll even guarantee our work. If you’ve been arrested, we think we provide you with a great service that can get you back on track in no time at all.
How a Detroit Mugshot Lawsuit Might Impact Your Rights
Most news outlets focus on issues of writing and grammar. They hire the best journalists, and support them with a team of editors, proofreaders, fact checkers and copy editors. Each word is scrutinized and each statement is closely vetted, just to make sure that the stories are as compelling and as factual as they can possibly be. Photographs, however, can make a story come alive. Visual details don’t always come to life with a verbal description, and some readers will pass right by stories that have no photographic accompaniment. This is particularly true in cases that involve crimes. Often, those stories are published alongside the mugshot taken during the arrest.
In Michigan, open records laws give reporters and editors broad access to the documents produced during an arrest. As the Michigan Municipal League suggests, there are very few exceptions to this rule, so almost every single request for a document is honored. The only real exceptions involve invasion of privacy. As a result, most stories of crimes in the state are illustrated with mugshots. But there is one notable exception.
When the former mayor of Detroit was arrested, and news agencies requested his mugshot for their newspapers, the governmental agencies responded with a startling claim. According to MLive.com, these agencies claimed that releasing the man’s mugshot accounted to a violation of the man’s privacy rights. Even though the man was found guilty of his crimes, the agency still felt that the photographs could be considered private and personal, and they shouldn’t be released as a result. The newspaper officials were incensed, and they filed a court case in order to get the photographs they wanted.
This is an intensely interesting case, when it comes to mugshot law. On first glance, it might seem as though the law enforcement agents are in the wrong. Each day, these same agencies provide mugshots on their own websites within Michigan, and they allow mugshot websites to scrape those photos and publish them. If the photos really are private and protected, perhaps no mugshot taken in the state should ever be shared. Why should one person get protection when no one else does? This is the sort of question that lawyers are trying to answer in courtrooms all across the country. For example, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press produced a blog in which multiple cases just like this were discussed, and they all had different outcomes. Sometimes, the court seemed to feel that mugshots should be considered private. In other cases, the courts seemed to think they should always be released.
Who is right? And how should you react if you’re arrested?
At this point, it’s best for you to take action now, as soon as you’re arrested. Cases like this take years or even decades to resolve, and sometimes, the decisions are overturned on appeals that also take decades to complete. Waiting for the courts might mean allowing your reputation to disintegrate, right before your eyes. We can help you fix the damage right now, no matter what the courts might say. And we work quickly, so you’ll get results in minutes.
3 Ways to Land a Job, Even if Your Mugshot is Available Online
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.8 million people were unemployed in May of 2013. That’s a large number, but it might not reflect the true state of unemployment in this country, as there were thousands of “frustrated seekers” at this point who had simply stopped looking for work because they hadn’t had any success in finding a job. If you’ve been arrested and your mugshot is online, you might be one of these frustrated, out-of-work Americans, and you might believe that you’ll never get a job because of the mistakes you’ve made in the past.
Thankfully, that just isn’t true. Every day, people just like you find new jobs that they can use to support their families and make a difference in the community. If you’ve been arrested, however, you might need to take a few steps in order to prepare for your job search.
1. Run a Search for Your Name.
Recently, CareerBuilder conducted a survey of hiring managers, and here, 49 percent of managers admitted that they’d refused to hire someone based on information that they found online. These managers objected to all sorts of things, including racy photos and ill-advised statements, but an arrest might also make a manager think twice about extending an offer of employment.
Managers could hire companies to search for information on job applicants, but many just lean on Google, and they run a basic search for a person’s name and location. You should do the same, and make a list of all of the negative information you see. With this list in hand, you’ll know just how many copies of your mugshot are circulating online, and just how bad the damage really is.
2. Fight Back Legally.
If your case has been thrown out of court, you might be able to work with mugshot sites directly and get your photographs removed. For example, some websites allow users to submit proof of their court cases, and they’ll respond by removing the photograph and the information about the arrest. Some mugshot websites will do the same for cases that have been expunged. This is an approach that should be used with caution, however, as not all sites will honor a request to remove an entry. Mugshots.com, for example, reserves the right to continue to publish mugshots as they see fit, regardless of expungement or innocence. Additionally, working with a mugshot site can be frustrating, as some don’t publish any sort of contact information or public policy statements. Just finding out who to talk to can be distressing, in some cases.
3. Accentuate the Positive.
Once the mugshots have been removed, you’ll need to create a robust PR campaign that can help you to repair your reputation. Creating a blog, sharing articles on your professional field of interest and otherwise promoting yourself and your talents could help you to look just a little more professional, when people run searches for your name. Play your cards right, and those new pieces of information you throw into cyberspace will pop up at the top of search engine results when people look for your name.
Rehabbing your reputation, and removing mugshot damage, can take time. If you’d rather focus on finding good job opportunities and preparing your resume for submission, we’d like to help. We can remove your mugshot in mere minutes, and we can create a significant amount of good data about you and your professional credentials, so you’ll shine on a search.
Who Owns a Mugshot? Experts Weigh In
In Taking Pictures: On Interpreting Native American Photographs of the Southern Northwest Coast, Carolyn J. Marr suggests that members of native cultures were leery of having their photographs taken during the late 19th century. Each photo taken seemed, to them, to steal a little of the sitter’s soul. The photos also seemed to disrespect the spiritual world, according to members of these cultures. These ideas are old, but they might resonate with people who pose for modern mugshots. People in these modern photos might also wonder who owns these little pieces of their souls, once the photos are taken. Do they own them? Does anyone? These are thorny questions, and while the answers might vary from state to state, some experts are choosing to approach the question of ownership when they’re trying to protect others from the dangers of the mugshot industry.
People who run mugshot websites often cite so-called “Sunshine Laws” when they justify their work. These laws, which exist in almost every state, are designed to allow taxpayers to view documents produced by their governmental agencies, and those documents are supposed to be provided in a manner that’s both convenient and accessible. A loose reading of these laws might permit mugshot sites to both obtain arrest records and use them in any way they see fit, simply because arrest documents and photos are generated by public agencies. As a result, they’re public documents.
Some lawmakers think this interpretation is too broad, however, and they suggest that the photographs are the legal property of the governmental agencies that take them. A lawmaker in Illinois has this opinion, for example, and he’s backing a bill that’s designed to classify the photographs as the intellectual property of the government. The lawmaker doesn’t like the industry, but he also believes the sites are breaking the law by using the photos for commercial gain. Similarly, a sheriff in Utah recently refused to release mugshots to a website, claiming that he held the copyright on those photos. Once again, this official didn’t like the industry, but he also felt that the sites were somehow breaking the laws of his state.
In both Illinois and Utah, lawmakers are focused on the practice of asking for payments removal of mugshots. In a separate case in Ohio, however, a lawyer is taking a different tactic. Here, he suggests that the person inside the photo has a form of ownership, and that laws are broken when the mugshot is used to either promote the mugshot website or encourage participation from users. This usage of the photos disrespects a person’s right to “publicity rights,” as the marketing use isn’t approved by the person in the photo.
All of these lawsuits and pending legislation put an interesting spin on the question of ownership, and it’s unclear how the public’s understanding of the mugshot industry might change in the future. Perhaps, one day, we’ll all feel that the person who holds the camera and the person smiling into the lens have some stake in the photo and how it can be used. Perhaps we’ll feel as though photographs belong to no one at all. In the interim, however, people who are photographed for mugshots should expect to see their photos online and they should expect to take action. We can help, contact us today for mugshot removal advice and consultations.