It's one of those things that you might not think too much about until it happens to you. Most people know that being arrested is not nearly the same thing as being found guilty, but you may be surprised to find yourself shamed and your reputation ruined by a for-profit web entity that virtually guarantees that your arrest photos or mugshots will hit the internet. The justice system is built on the credo that you are innocent until proven guilty, but mugshot websites give lie to that perception. Read on to learn more.
Searching for something: Most people have "googled" themselves from time to time, but even more people have likely done the same thing by placing other names in the search box. It's common knowledge that everyone from potential employers to potential love interests give Google a go when they need more information about someone. Unfortunately, when a mugshot photo pops up on the first page, it can paint a very negative and sometimes erroneous picture of a person's reputation.
What is the purpose of mugshot sites? One word: money. These sites garner advertising bucks by views; anyone who views the mugshot photos also views advertising on the same page. To make matters worse and to add to these website owner's pockets, the information comes from sites that charge nothing. Arrest information is public information, unfortunately, and they argue that anyone with a need can access the same information themselves by going directly to the sources.
In this case, those sources are law enforcement sites like city police departments and sheriff's offices. While it's true that anyone can search and view arrest records and jail population information, most people would not necessarily know to do that or know where to search. These sites present the nosy public with easy access to this information.
When charges are dropped. If and when the person shown at their worst moment is found innocent, have their charges dropped or the state declines to prosecute them, do these sites follow up and let people know this information? Of course, they do not. The facts of the case are of no interest to these sites, particularly boring information that may fail to titillate the public.
What can be done? There are little to no laws on the books about this relatively new form of punishing those accused of crimes, but some sites will remove your photo for a fee. Payment processors like PayPal and others have begun refusing to process payments for most mugshot sites, and a class action lawsuit in the works, however.
If your reputation has been harmed by a mugshot site, you are being defamed through libel. Speak to a personal injury attorney, such as at the Law Offices of Jeremy W McKey, about your case and to learn more about the class action suit.