Mugshots.com Owners Arrested and Charged with Extortion

When you are charged with a crime, your arrest record and booking photo are public information – even if the charges are dropped or you are found not guilty.

Anyone can get that information with a Freedom of Information Act request (or, in some cases, from the website of the law enforcement agency that charged you), and it is perfectly legal for someone to share that information with others or even publish it on the Internet.

But, it is not legal for them to demand that you pay them to remove the information. That’s extortion.

The owners of Mugshots.com have learned this the hard way. The four men were arrested in Florida and charged with extortion, money laundering, and identity theft. Their website has published thousands of booking photos and arrest records, and they raked in millions of dollars by demanding payment to remove the information.

As Long as The Charges Are Dropped, What Does It Matter?

The publication of these kinds of records can be damning – especially for someone who was not guilty of the crime they were charged with.

Think about it – you were arrested for DUI, but the blood test performed after your arrest proved that you weren’t drunk. The charge was dropped, but a couple of years later you tried to change jobs, only to be rejected because your potential employer found your name, arrest record, and mugshot on Google.

Why should the actions of an overzealous police officer stain your record for the rest of your life?

Can I Get My Mugshot Removed from Google?

So, what can you do about it?

Call us at the Thompson Defense Firm – we can take advantage of the state’s “mugshot extortion” law, which makes it illegal for anyone to demand payment to remove a booking photo and arrest record from a website.

The law, passed in 2016, also prohibits anyone from obtaining arrest records for the purpose of publishing them and demanding payment to remove them, as well as distributing them to others who they know they will use them for extortion.

We will contact the publisher and request that they remove your information, and they will have 30 days to comply. If they refuse to remove your information unless you pay them, we will contact the appropriate law enforcement agency, and the publisher could be looking at 60 days in jail and a fine of $1,000.

Even if they don’t demand payment, they are still required to remove the information if you were found not guilty or if your charges were dismissed or expunged.

If they refuse to remove your photo and arrest record, you can then sue to force them to remove your mugshot from Google and to pay damages to you. H/T Coastal Law Blog.

SC Criminal Defense Attorney in Myrtle Beach, Lexington, and Columbia

Defense attorney Lacey Thompson accepts criminal defense cases only in the Horry County, Lexington County, and Richland County areas. We are always available to help our clients clean up their records, which may include expungements, pardons, or going after websites like mugshots.com that attempt to blackmail our clients.

If you are trying to remove your mugshot from Google, or if you have been charged with a crime in SC, call now at 843-444-6122 or send us a message for a free consultation to see how we can help.

5 Responses to “Mugshots.com Owners Arrested and Charged with Extortion

  • Why can’t the law be changed so that mugshots be taken post conviction?
    I was arrested on non-DUI traffic charges and spent one night at the detention center.
    That week, one of my 24 coworkers brought in the magazine with my mugshot. I was highly embarrassed.
    A post conviction mugshot would alleviate this type of extortion and embarrassment.

    • You are right – but – the media has a First Amendment right to report truthfully on events as they happen – although embarrassing, an arrest is considered a newsworthy event of interest to the public. If the charge is dismissed and expunged, however, it may be defamation…

  • Is this retroactive or only affects arrests after a particular year? Thx, joethepro@hotmail.com

    • Hi Joe – it applies to any website that is extorting money from arrestees by demanding payment to remove their mugshot. It is retroactive, in the sense that, if a website published your mugshot prior to the enactment of the law, they are still required to remove it or they can be sued.

  • Also, I was given a traffic ticket for misuse of lane in South Carolina. Had jury trial, and was found not guilty. However my insurance company had a record of it before trial, and I believe affected my insurance rate.

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