You have been charged with a criminal offense. You feel your life is over once your friends and family learn of your alleged transgressions. Even worse, you are trying to get into that prestigious college, technical or trade school, or that dream job is just waiting for you to accept. You hire an Attorney to help you defend those charges, they work hard on your behalf and you are elated that the charges are dismissed. Now the Attorney assists you with getting your record expunged to wipe all of this nightmarish time in your life away, for good! Now you are safe from embarrassment and ridicule and your life can go on, uninterrupted. Then, you are playing around on the internet with your best friend and decide to perform a search on each other’s names…..and OMG, WHAT IS THAT!? Your mugshot is plastered all over the screen detailing all of the alleged misdeeds that you had worked so hard to be dismissed. You immediately continue your search and find the same mugshot on multiple sites – it just does not seem to stop. Then you find, through more research that friends (and family) had seen an issue of those tabloid style magazines, which are so conveniently displayed at the register of your local convenience mart and gas station, with your face and name all in plain view. They already knew, and were just afraid to bring it up. You are mortified! You’re never getting into that school,
never getting that dream job, and your fiancé’s parents now know the “truth” about their precious child’s dream boat. But, what can you do?
This is an all too common problem and has recently been looked at by the United States 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. http://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/16a0164p-06.pdf . In short, the Court overturned their ruling in the 1996 case, Detroit Free Press, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice (Free Press I), 73 F.3d 93 (6th Cir. 1996). Their 9-7 decision in the most recent case, we will call it Free Press II; the majority ruled, “…individuals do enjoy a non-trivial right to privacy.” In other words, your mugshot may not be open and available for public consumption when you have only been charged with a crime and not actually convicted. Those in opposition to this decision, scream for open access to Government records and heavily rely upon the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) to promote having mugshots available to them upon request. This open access viewpoint creates a problem in this internet age of everything, good and bad, is at someone’s fingertip at the click of a mouse or a swipe of his or her phone or tablet. It is still my understanding that someone is innocent until proven guilty. However, it is easy to hear the town gossipers convicting someone for a life of embarrassment just based on a mugshot. These charges may have been dismissed or reduced and therefore the internet-forever mugshot should have never been an option for viewing in the general public. Nevertheless, the mugshot is there and you want to have it removed if possible.
To learn about what others are saying about the mugshots and whether it is an invasion of privacy, here are some useful links with more information.
Mugshots Deserving of Non-Trivial Privacy Considerations ;
Google Cracks Down on Mugshot Sites
Breeding Henry Baysan can help on all of these fronts. We are experienced litigators that provide a strong defense to federal and state charges. Additionally, if any of your charges, past or present, are eligible for expungement, we can explain the options you have available to you and whether they can be expunged. Lastly, if you find your mugshot online, please contact us and allow us the opportunity to investigate the options you have for getting those out of the public view.