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It’s all about getting the right shot when it comes to social media. Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat are filled with photos and videos — content-worthy material according to the person posting and his or her audience. It may take several tries getting the right pose and image to post….along with a bit of help from filters and Photoshop! People love posting pics — that is, photos that show you in the best light.
What people never want to see is their mugshot online. The last thing you want if you’re a CEO, entrepreneur, business owner, executive, manager, professional (lawyer, doctor, accountant, consultant), employee, politician, celebrity, athlete, influencer, etc. is for your search results to display a mugshot due to an arrest record that may or may not be easily explained. As we well know, not all arrests lead to charges or a conviction. And not every picture tells the complete story!
While a mugshot was taken for an arrest record and identification purposes, it doesn’t by any means imply guilt. Unfortunately, most people jump to conclusions once they see a mugshot online.
If you’ve ever asked, “can Google remove mugshots for me?” this is the guide you need to begin restoring your online reputation. Let’s get started.
Arrest records, including one’s mugshot, are considered public records and are available to post and copy. While each state and jurisdiction varies regarding access to mugshots, these photos still end up online. Moreover, mugshots can, unfortunately, stay online indefinitely if something is not done to address them.
Even worse, booking photos obtained from law enforcement databases appear on commercial mugshot aggregation sites. In fact, mugshot publishing is considered a niche market of tabloid journalism.
There are dozens of mugshot websites out there. Several mugshot sites include Mugshots.com, FindMugshots.com, JailBase.com, and Busted Newspaper, just to name a few. Screen-scraping programs enable mugshot companies to collect new and old mugshots from law enforcement agencies and post them on their own websites. Furthermore, search engine optimization (SEO) techniques allow the sites to tag photos so that they appear at the top of the results when someone enters a name into Google or other search engines like Bing or Yahoo.
Many mugshot sites will not remove the photos even if criminal charges have been dismissed, dropped, or downgraded, or if charges haven’t been filed. Moreover, many sites will not remove the mugshot if the person is acquitted or the conviction is expunged or sealed or the criminal record is removed. Some of these websites’ owners will charge for the mugshot removal even though in many jurisdictions this is an illegal practice.
When mugshots appear in search results, a person’s credibility and online reputation are directly impacted, regardless of actual guilt. Background checks are performed on job applicants/candidates. If a mugshot comes up, it’s highly unlikely that the prospective employer will ask for details to learn the reason behind the shot or arrest record. The employer will just pass without saying a word.
Current employees may lose their jobs if a mugshot comes up in search engines (as long as employment practices are adhered to). At the very least, it’s embarrassing and awkward to have to explain an incident, which may have been dismissed but continues to show up. The mugshot is online for all to see with a simple Google search.
Customers and potential business partners who use search engines to get background information about a person and the company will decide against making any purchases or deals if an arrest photo appears in the search results. Often there won’t be an opportunity for the individual in the mugshot to explain his or her arrest record and the details surrounding it.
Applicants looking to rent a house or an apartment will also be subjected to a background check. If a mugshot appears in the search engines, the opportunity to rent that great place will be lost. Property owners will automatically assume there is a criminal record and won’t want to rent to an individual with some sort of offense.
Even dating can end up being problematic. You go on an online dating site, and read all these great things about a person. Then you decide to do a Google search to get some additional information and a mugshot comes up in search. You pass on the date.
Included with the mugshot in the arrest record are also personal details such as the suspect’s full name, date of birth, sex, physical characteristics, time of arrest, charges, etc., which can then be shared online and used for nefarious purposes like identity theft, blackmail, or extortion.
In addition, once booking photos are on the web, the photos can be copied and redistributed by other sites. Individuals who had charges dropped or were found not guilty can find it difficult to repair their online reputation without taking the appropriate actions to remove mugshots and arrest records.
Can Google remove mugshots and other embarrassing personal information from the web? The answer is yes, but with some qualifications:
Google will suppress mugshot search results for legal reasons. The company may also remove personal information upon request if it poses a specific harm or risk to an individual. Note, however, that Google does not typically remove publicly available information.
We mention Google specifically, as it is the most popular search engine, with 90% of the global search engine market share. Just to give you an idea of how critical search engine results are in one’s decision-making, there are more than 70,000 Google searches each second. This translates to nearly 227 million an hour and about 5.4 billion Google searches per day!
Whether Google can remove mugshots is entirely subjective with the above qualifications in mind. Even if the company is unlikely to honor your request, this should be your first step toward clearing your online reputation.
Send a written request to the webmaster of the mugshot website to remove the photo, but many of these sites are designed to get money from you and will more than likely ask for payment (depending on state law). Even if they don’t charge to remove the mugshots, mugshot websites make money off of advertisers so they have a strong incentive to keep their sites operational and continue to wreak havoc on an individual’s reputation.
If the webmaster does agree to remove the mugshot, it will be removed from the page rather than being suppressed by one search engine or manipulating search engine results.
Reputable, reliable mugshot removal services are available to help individuals. These companies employ sophisticated techniques designed to impact search engine results so that a mugshot does not appear among the top searches. The mugshot removal websites are typically among the services an online reputational management (ORM) company offers. ORMs are experienced in removing negative information from the internet. They will remove mugshots from Google and other damaging information and restore your reputation. A professional mugshot removal service will get rid of jail mugshots, arrest record information, and court records as well as implement a mugshot online monitoring program.
An experienced ORM will work with engineers who specialize in search engines and IT professionals to develop an effective and confidential strategy to remove an arrest record and mugshot photos from search engines and the internet. Searches will be conducted to reveal each instance the arrest information appears on the internet, including identifying each website where the jail record, mugshot photo, and/or arrest information comes up. Based on the findings and an in-depth analysis, a strategy will be implemented to remove the arrest record and mugshot from all sites that have published it as soon as possible.
The damaging information will be removed from the mugshot websites and from search, including Google, Bing and Yahoo, and Google images.
You can also speak to a criminal defense attorney to discuss getting your arrest record and mugshot removed. More than likely, this will be a costly endeavor. Lawyers are not typically in the business of mugshot removal and removing an individual’s arrest record from search results. You’ll most likely end up spending the same amount of money on getting your mugshot removed and your arrest record expunged as you would in attorney courtroom fees.
Another option is to expunge or seal your arrest record, which may be more difficult to accomplish on your own. This procedure requires that the crime you committed be within the scope of the expungement law, which typically includes minor offenses, minor drug offenses, and other non-violent or sexual crimes. For a record to be expunged, a certain amount of time must have passed since the incident or conviction. Additionally, no other convictions of any other criminal offenses may exist.
You’ll have to file a petition with the court requesting that the arrest record and other records be expunged or sealed. If you’re successful, the order of expungement can be sent to the mug shot website that published the booking photo. The website’s own rules may state that mugshots will be removed in such cases.
You can also opt to seek a court order mandating the mugshot image be removed.
It’s difficult to get mugshots, arrest records, and criminal records removed on your own, and an attorney will be costly. You need the expertise that comes with mugshot removal services. These companies know which strategies to employ to get a negative image and content removed from the internet. You don’t want your career and personal and business relationships jeopardized because of a false arrest or minor incident that is now part of the public record.
Need help with getting your personal info off the web? Contact us now!