The Look Of Guilt: Online Mugshots And You

Posted on: 15 March 2017

It's become a major facet of researching someone's background, be it a potential employee, a date or a new nanny. Simply plug in a name, and watch Google or another search engine spit out the results. Unfortunately, what often pops up near the top of the results can be deceiving, particularly when it appears that the object of your search is shown in a mugshot.

For many, just a look at the mugshot and the alleged crime is enough, but how fair of an evaluation is that? People under the U.S. justice system are provided with the status of the right to be "innocent until proven guilty", but these mugshot websites seem to run counter to that protection.

Read on to learn more about this trend to post photos of those accused on the internet for all to see.

The Look of Guilt

Mugshots are seldom flattering, whether you are guilty or not. Did you know that arrest information is considered public information? There is no question that having open access to the actions of law enforcement serves a vital function and allows all citizens to stay apprised of their actions, but the damage caused by the publishing of a person's arrest and photo cannot be undone once the person is found to be not guilty. Few people are going to follow up and check with the court system to get the final outcome of the case. If your potential employer views your mugshot on the web, you can likely kiss your chances for the job goodbye, whether it's fair or not.

No Laws Broken

While the actions of these mugshot websites may seem avaricious and distasteful, they are not really breaking any laws. Law enforcement websites make this information available and the websites simply lift it right from the source, free of charge. These types of sites employ "bots" to constantly grab new mugshot releases and publish them on their sites.

The Financial Side

These sites make money the same as most so-called "informational" sites, they sell advertising on the site. Increasingly, however, another source of income for these mugshot sites has come to light and it may cross the line when it comes to ethical behavior. It seems that people featured on these sites have almost no recourse, and in most cases efforts to have a mugshot removed is unsuccessful. Some sites, however, for a fee, will remove the photo. Since the mugshot is likely to appear on dozens of similar sites, it can get incredibly expensive to protect your reputation.

What To Do

Many payment systems (like PayPal) have already stopped providing services for these types of sites, and there is a class action suit pending as well. Additionally, some states have legislation in the works to restrict these sites. Otherwise, your only course of action may well be to file a personal injury suit against the sites to force them to remove your information. If your reputation was harmed by a mugshot site, talk to a personal injury attorney through resources like


Always Know Your Renter's Rights

After my mother suffered a fall on the icy steps of her apartment building, I learned a lot about renter's rights, and I want to share my story and tips to help others. My mother was extremely afraid to pursue action against the apartment owners who were at fault for her fall due to fear she would be kicked out of her apartment. I found out that there are state laws that protect apartment renters from retaliation for asserting their rights as renters. However, it is very important to have any attorney on your side when you pursue a personal injury lawsuit against an apartment owner; the owner is less likely to even try to illegally evict you if they know you have an attorney already on your side. I hope you can learn a lot from my story and the other tips I share on this blog!