More than 500 people are arrested every single hour in the United States. The vast number of these people are arrested on minor drug charges, and it’s likely that the arrest represents the single most embarrassing part of that person’s life to date. In fact, it’s likely that people who are arrested just want to put the whole thing behind them and never think about it again. Unfortunately, mugshot websites make forgetting difficult, if not impossible.
Mugshot websites exist due to state-by-state open records laws. These laws are designed to ensure that government work takes place out in the open, meaning that anyone can walk into a governmental agency and ask for copies of the paperwork that agency has generated during the course of its work.
Mugshots and booking photographs (e.g., mugshots) count as government documents, so anyone can request copies of these photos and do anything with them. Most governmental agencies take these laws seriously, and as a result, they’ve taken to placing mugshots and arrest data online, where it can be easily copied and distributed.
People who have hired lawyers to help them with a mugshot problem may know this all too well. The mugshot sites aren’t breaking the law, in most cases, as they’re just taking information from a governmental agency and sharing it with the public. It’s a legit usage, and that means lawsuits are destined to fail. Until the laws change, record removal through the court system is nearly impossible.
According to Search Engine People, Google has about 1 billion unique visitors each and every month, and most of these people are looking for information about a person, place or thing. Unfortunately, mugshot websites rank high on Google, so a search for a person’s name can easily bring back multiple copies of a mugshot. Some reputation management companies sequester mugshots for their clients, meaning the images are removed from the front page of the mugshot sites, but those same images are still easily found via Google. It’s important to find companies that will actually delete images, so they can’t be found at all.
People who have been acquitted of their charges and/or who have had their arrest records expunged may be able to remove photographs from the web on their own, without the help of any kind of outside company. In most cases, mugshot websites will delete images if people can prove that they’ve had their cases dealt with in a court of law and they’ve emerged victorious. People like this can just look for a “record removal” button or a “contact us” button and submit their paperwork for a record removal.
There are a few notable exceptions to this rule, however, as some mugshot websites claim that they won’t remove records at all, no matter how the case turned out. Mugshots.com, for example, claims that the record of the arrest still stands, no matter how the case might turn out, so the company might not remove mugshots when consumers ask them to do so.
As a result, people who appear on this site might need to work with a reputation management company to get their records removed. Reputation management companies can sometimes delete photographs, even when the mugshot sites claim that record removal is impossible.
Reputation management firms are designed to fill the gap. Some companies have created sophisticated computer programs that can remove records from mugshot websites in mere minutes. Most of these firms don’t require proof of innocence or details about the arrest. Instead, they ask for a nominal fee and they complete the work when those funds have been transferred.
It might seem distasteful for people who are arrested to pay someone else to remove the records from that arrest, but at the moment, it’s the only guaranteed way for anyone, at any time, to get mugshots removed from the Internet.
Not all reputation management firms are created equal, however, and it’s important for consumers to take care to do research before hiring a company that can help. For example, most people who want to remove a mugshot want to do so because they’re facing reputation damage via Google.
Similarly, DIY solutions require people to look for each and every copy of their mugshot and contact each and every mugshot website individually. This can get exhausting. One again, mugshot websites could help, as these companies often remove multiple records for one low fee. For people with time constraints, this could be a big help.