Cleared of a crime? It doesn’t matter — your mugshot will live forever online, unless you want to cough up hundreds of dollars to have it removed.
Websites like Mugshots.com and Arrests.org have collected millions of mug shots by scraping police department websites, and if innocent arrestees want their photos taken down, they have to spend anywhere from $399 to $1,479.
The other option is allowing the embarrassing — and potentially career-killing — image to stay near the top of their Google results for years.
“It’s legalized extortion, in my opinion,” said Anthony Rickman, a Florida attorney who said he has handled numerous inquiries from clients seeking mug shot removal.
“Perhaps the most concerning part of Mugshots.com is that your picture is posted immediately after the arrest, so even if you are never convicted of the crime, your mug shot will still be immortalized on the Internet,” said Noah Sidman-Gale, a community manager at SafeShepherd, a company that finds and removes clients’ personal data from the Internet.
Sophia Andrade, 50, is still fighting to get her mug shot taken down two years after it was published. Andrade’s mug shot was taken after her husband called the police, claiming she had scratched him.
“I went to jail on a lie from my husband, who had me arrested when I asked for a divorce,” Andrade said. “The case was thrown out, and it wasn’t even brought to trial.”
Though she was never charged, Andrade’s photo still appears on Mugshots.com — because she refuses to pay the $399 fee.”