Remember that time you had a little too much vodka during a college party, and you were hauled off to the police station for public nudity? Chances are, it’s a night you’d rather forget about. However, mugshot website administrators might want you to remember every single sweaty, nauseating detail. In fact, they might even have photographs of the evening that they’re willing to wave in front of your face. Of course, they’ll preserve your memory loss for a small fee, and they might even accept PayPal payments for their time and trouble.
But should you pay?
And what does it mean if the site has no such removal options?
These are questions many people are asking themselves as the mugshot industry continues to grow and spread, and the number of sites that aren’t publicizing any removal options is also growing larger. It’s a disturbing trend, but thankfully, there are some things you can do to fight back.
In the past, removing a mugshot from a site like this was a relatively simple affair. Most people could:
- Find their photograph
- Click on the entry
- Click on the “Record Removal” button
- Fill out the information
- Send a payment
Some people balked at the idea of sending any kind of payment at all, as funding the mugshot industry filled them with a feeling of nausea, but others chose to bite the bullet and send in the money, deleting that photo for good. Now, many mugshot websites seem to be deleting their “Record Removal” buttons altogether. It’s a baffling move, as these sites depend on deletion fees to stay afloat. It’s difficult to understand why they’d make this change, but a little digging reveals some valuable clues.
In the past, most sites like this accepted PayPal and credit card payments. Now, few sites do. It’s possible that some of these mugshot websites are running afoul of the acceptable use policies of these companies, which tend to contain strict language about the types of transactions people can and cannot perform online. These sites might be removing all of their removal options for a time, until they figure out their next move.
Good or Bad?
On the surface, removing a money-making option from a mugshot website is an excellent idea. After all, companies that don’t have a secure source of funding don’t tend to stay in business for a long period of time. However, there may be a dark underbelly to a change like this.
People who find a mugshot online are, reasonably, in a state of panic. They might wonder how they’ll get that promotion they’re up for at work, or what their new romantic interest might say, when that damaging photograph appears on a Google search. To a person like this, removing that photograph as quickly as possible is of prime importance, no matter how it happens. If mugshot websites are removing those buttons while they continue to publish new photographs, they could be putting thousands of people into panic mode on a daily basis.
Thankfully, there is help available. Some people, for example, find relief by hiring a lawyer and providing information about the arrest. Mugshot websites often remove photographs that were taken as part of cases that were later thrown out or pled down. Proof of innocence, provided on letterhead from a lawyer’s office, might be all that’s require to make that mugshot disappear.
Some people find that their state laws protect them from any kind of mugshot interference. In some states, mugshots can’t be used for commercial purposes unless express permission is provided. In other states, mugshots can’t be published if the person in question is younger than 18. Running a quick search online, using the name of the state and the words “mugshot law,” can usually help to clarify the matter, and if the site is in violation of state law, a trip to the courthouse might be in order.
Outside companies may also be of assistance, as they can sometimes use a combination of coding and legal expertise to remove mugshots and keep future attacks from taking place. The work might be expensive, but it’s often quite effective.
In general, however, it’s best for people who appear online to take action as quickly as possible. Waiting for the companies to implode due to lack of payment options might result in such significant reputation damage that recovery is difficult or impossible. Taking action now, in whatever form, is preferable to a wait-and-see attitude, when mugshots are in play.