How To Fight Mugshot Extortion: Know Your Rights And Options

June 15, 2023

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Mugshot extortion is a type of cybercrime that occurs when a third-party website posts a person’s mugshot online and then charges them a fee to remove it. This practice is becoming increasingly popular, with many websites taking advantage of the fact that individuals may be embarrassed or humiliated by the presence of their mugshot online.

Law enforcement and criminal justice agencies commonly use and share mugshots publicly. In recent years, a number of third-party websites have begun posting mugshots online and charging a fee for their removal. This practice, known as mugshot extortion, has become increasingly popular due to the potential for financial gain and the lack of legal recourse for those affected.

In addition to the financial and emotional toll this practice can take on individuals, it can have serious implications for the reputation of those affected, as well as their future employment prospects. This article will explore the legal implications of mugshot extortion, discuss strategies for combating it, and provide ways to prevent and educate on the issue.

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Understanding Mugshot Extortion and Its Impact

Mugshot extortion is a term used to describe the practice of websites posting individuals’ mugshots online and then charging a fee for their removal.

Common tactics such websites employ include using search engine optimization to make the mugshots appear at the top of search engine results and listing the mugshots for much longer than necessary.

These practices can devastate individuals, as a single mugshot can cause them to suffer from social stigma and loss of employment opportunities.

The Concept of Mugshot Extortion

The concept of extracting money from individuals by publishing their arrest mugshots has become increasingly widespread. The term “mugshot extortion” has been coined to describe this practice, which involves the publication of an individual’s arrest mugshot on a website or in other media outlets, typically accompanied by requests for money in exchange for the removal of the published mugshot.

Mugshot extortion typically operates on a pay-to-delete business model, where the extortionist will charge a fee for removing the mugshot from a website or other publication. The fee may be paid in cash or through online payment services such as PayPal or Bitcoin. In some cases, the extortionist may also demand a percentage of the individual’s salary or other forms of payment.

Common Tactics Used by Mugshot-Related Websites

Mugshot-related websites often utilize tactics that facilitate extortion. These tactics include charging a fee to remove the mugshot, obscuring the mugshot’s removal process to make it more difficult, and utilizing a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to make the mugshots more visible and thus more likely to be seen.

The websites typically charge a fee to remove the mugshot, which is usually non-negotiable. Additionally, the process for removal can be unclear or obstructed with a complicated set of steps, making it difficult to have the mugshot taken down.

Furthermore, the website may employ SEO tactics, such as keyword optimization, to increase the visibility of the mugshot and make it easier to find. This can include utilizing specific keywords or phrases that are likely to be searched, such as the individual’s name.

Consequences of Mugshot Extortion on Individuals

Individuals who have been subjected to mugshot extortion often face serious consequences. These consequences can be both financial and emotional.

On the financial side, those targeted by mugshot extortion may be required to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars to remove their mugshot from a website. This can be a significant financial burden, especially for those who are already in a difficult financial situation.

In addition to monetary costs, those affected by mugshot extortion can also face emotional suffering. Having a mugshot posted online can be humiliating and can even lead to public shaming, which can cause feelings of embarrassment and humiliation.

Furthermore, the presence of a mugshot on the internet can have long-lasting professional consequences, as potential employers may be less inclined to hire those with a mugshot on the internet.

In short, mugshot extortion can have serious financial and emotional repercussions for those affected.

Legal Rights and Regulations Against Mugshot Extortion

Mugshot extortion has become a significant problem in recent years, as unscrupulous sites publish mugshots and demand extortion fees for their removal.

Several states have enacted specific laws targeting mugshot extortion practices to combat this issue.

Additionally, copyright infringement and privacy rights are key considerations when discussing mugshot publication, as is the risk of false accusations or mistaken identity.


two people looking at a laptop in an office.

State Laws Targeting Mugshot Extortion Practices

Many states have enacted legislation to combat extortion practices associated with mugshots. These laws are often created in response to the publication of mugshots and the subsequent attempts to extract payment from individuals in exchange for the removal of the photos.

Some states have passed laws that make it illegal to charge individuals for removing these photos. Other states have made it illegal to publish mugshots in the first place. In some states, those who distribute mugshots must include a disclaimer informing individuals that they are not required to pay for the removal of their mugshots.

Additionally, some states have made it illegal to include a person’s name or identifying information in the mugshots, helping to ensure that the images cannot be used to extort payment from individuals. Still, other states have limited how long mugshots must remain accessible online.

These laws are intended to protect the rights of individuals who have been arrested and to prevent the publication of mugshots for the purpose of extortion.

Copyright Infringement and Mugshots

In some cases, copyright infringement may be associated with the publication of mugshots. Since mugshots are taken by law enforcement, they are often considered public records and are thus exempt from copyright protection.

However, in certain cases, the photographer or law enforcement agency that took the mugshot might have a valid copyright claim over it. This is especially true if the mugshot was taken with a unique background, a specific lighting scheme, or a unique angle.

In addition, some websites that publish mugshots may be guilty of copyright infringement if they alter or manipulate them in any way. This is because altering or manipulating the mugshot can be considered creating new work and therefore requires permission from the photographer or law enforcement agency.

Some examples of this type of copyright infringement include:

  • Adding a logo or watermark to the mugshot
  • Blurring out certain parts of the mugshot
  • Changing the colors or contrast of the mugshot

Privacy Rights and Mugshot Publication

As mugshots may be published on various websites, it is important to consider the various privacy rights associated with these publications.

In the United States, the legal concept of privacy rights is based on the notion of the right to be let alone, the right to control the dissemination of one’s image, and the right to be free from unreasonable intrusion.

Although the right to privacy is not explicitly mentioned in the US Constitution, it has been recognized by the Supreme Court in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision.

Generally, publishing a mugshot online without the person’s permission in the photograph violates privacy rights.

A mugshot is a public record that may be used by law enforcement for identification and other official purposes; however, the publication of a mugshot online is often done to embarrass and humiliate the person in the photograph.

Therefore, it is important for individuals to understand their legal rights and options with regard to mugshot publication.

Strategies to Combat Mugshot Extortion

Mugshot extortion is a serious problem for many victims. To combat mugshot extortion, individuals can take various actions, such as contacting websites and requesting removal, utilizing mugshot removal services, pursuing legal action against extortionists, and strengthening their online reputation.

Understanding the various options available to fight mugshot extortion and protect one’s reputation is important.

Contacting Websites and Requesting Removal

Reaching out to websites that feature mugshots and requesting removal is an important step in fighting mugshot extortion. First, it is critical to identify the website hosting the mugshot. Once the website has been identified, individuals should contact the website and request that the mugshot be removed.

It is important to remember that many websites are for-profit businesses that are often unwilling to remove mugshots unless an individual is willing to pay a fee. Therefore, it is essential to understand the website’s fees and policies before requesting removal.

When making contact with the website, individuals should include all relevant information to support their removal request, such as:

  • Proof that the mugshot was included without authorization
  • Relevant court documents that prove the charges were dropped, or the case was dismissed
  • Information about applicable laws or statutes that may support the request
  • Documentation proving identity
  • A signed, written request for removal

Utilizing Mugshot Removal Services

Utilizing mugshot removal services can be an effective solution for those seeking to have a mugshot removed. Mugshot removal services are businesses that specialize in helping individuals get their mugshots removed from the internet.

They offer specialized services such as filing paperwork to remove the mugshot, monitoring the mugshot for any changes, and helping to ensure that the mugshot does not appear on the internet again. These services may include filing requests to the website hosting the mugshot, utilizing search engine optimization to push the mugshot down in search engine results, or providing legal advice in certain cases.

Using a mugshot removal service may be the quickest and most cost-effective way to remove a mugshot from the internet. The removal process is often complex and difficult for those without legal or technical experience. A mugshot removal service can handle the entire process, allowing individuals to focus on other matters.

Additionally, the service can provide the individual with better peace of mind since the mugshot will no longer be accessible online.

Pursuing Legal Action Against Extortionists

In some cases, pursuing legal action against extortionists may be an appropriate option to address the issue of mugshot exploitation. Taking legal action requires individuals to gain a clear understanding of their legal rights and options.

Depending on the situation, individuals may have a legal claim against the extortionist for defamation, copyright infringement, or an invasion of privacy. Defamation, for example, occurs when an individual’s reputation is damaged because of false and malicious statements made by the extortionist.

Individuals may also have a claim for copyright infringement if the mugshot was taken by a professional photographer. The photographer holds the copyright to the photo and any unauthorized use by the extortionist would be considered an infringement. The extortionist may also be liable for an invasion of privacy if they have used the photo without permission and for commercial gain.

People pursuing legal action must provide evidence to support their claims. Consulting with a lawyer can help individuals understand their legal rights and the best course of action to take.

Strengthening Your Online Reputation

Moving on from pursuing legal action against extortionists, another way to fight mugshot extortion is to strengthen your online reputation. This involves actively managing your own online presence to ensure that your mugshot is not the first thing that comes up when someone searches for you. It also involves proactively monitoring what is said about you online to ensure that any negative information about you is countered by positive information or content.

One way to do this is to create a positive online presence by creating a website or blog to post positive content about yourself and your accomplishments. This can help to push any negative information about you further down the search engine results page (SERP). Additionally, creating profiles on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn allows you to connect with others, share positive content, and counter any negative content that surfaces.

Prevention and Education to Combat Mugshot Extortion

The prevention and education of mugshot extortion can be achieved through being cautious when sharing personal information online, understanding and exercising one’s rights, and advocating for stronger laws against mugshot extortion.

Awareness of the risks posed by online sharing is essential for preventing extortion and should be taught to all who use the internet.

It is also important for individuals to understand their rights and what actions they can take in case of extortion or any other misuse of personal information.

Finally, efforts to strengthen existing laws against mugshot extortion and create more effective policies should be advocated for to protect individuals from these situations better.


a cork board with a lot of papers on it.

Being Cautious When Sharing Personal Information Online

It is imperative for individuals to exercise caution when sharing personal information online, as this can potentially lead to extortionary attempts.

Individuals should be especially careful when sharing sensitive data, such as bank account numbers or social security numbers since this information can be used to commit identity theft or other financial crimes.

It is important for individuals to understand the privacy policies of the websites they visit and the risks associated with providing personal information on the web.

In addition, individuals should consider using a pseudonym when creating accounts or profiles on websites, as this can help to prevent personal information from being associated with an individual’s real identity.

It is also important to be aware of the security measures offered by websites, such as two-factor authentication, which can help to protect an individual’s account from being accessed by unauthorized users.

Taking these precautions can help to reduce the risk of becoming the victim of mugshot extortion.

Understanding and Exercising Your Rights

Understanding one’s rights in the event of a mugshot extortion attempt is essential for protecting personal information and privacy. In the United States, the legal system offers individuals a number of rights and options when it comes to fighting mugshot extortion.

The first and most important right is the right to remain silent. Individuals should not provide any information to extortionists, as this could be used against them in court. Additionally, individuals should not engage or respond to any communication from the extortionist.

Individuals also have the right to seek legal counsel, which can be beneficial in helping to understand the legal process and protecting one’s rights. Other options, such as filing a restraining order against the extortionist, can also be explored. It is important to note that victims of mugshot extortion should not take any action on their own, as this could be considered a criminal act.

Finally, individuals should be aware of their state’s laws regarding mugshot extortion and their rights in such cases. Understanding these rights can help ensure that individuals are prepared to fight against mugshot extortion.

  • Rights
    • Remain Silent
    • Seek Legal Counsel
  • Options
    • File a Restraining Order
    • Understand State Laws

Advocating for Stronger Laws Against Mugshot Extortion

Advocating for stronger laws against those who exploit private images is a cause that many individuals are passionate about. There are several ways to take action to protect individuals from mugshot extortion.

One of the most effective ways to do this is to contact legislators and urge them to pass strong laws against those who employ these tactics. Many states have laws that protect individuals from being charged a fee for removing their mugshot, but loopholes can still be exploited by those who engage in this practice. It is important to contact legislators and ask them to close those loopholes, and to pass laws that clearly outline the penalties for those who engage in this type of exploitation.

In addition to contacting legislators, individuals can join advocacy groups dedicated to protecting individuals from mugshot extortion. These groups organize campaigns to raise awareness of the issue and pressure legislators to act and pass strong laws to protect individuals from exploitation. They also work to educate the public on the issue and provide resources to victims, such as legal advice and support.

Joining an advocacy group is a great way to make a difference and help protect individuals from the exploitation of their private images.


When it comes to combating mugshot extortion, it is important to understand the legal rights and regulations that exist to protect individuals from this type of crime.

It is also important to be aware of strategies that can be used to combat extortion, such as working with local law enforcement and legal professionals to ensure that mugshots are removed quickly from the Internet.

Lastly, education and prevention are key to preventing extortion incidents from occurring in the first place.

By understanding the legal rights, strategies, and prevention techniques available, individuals can help protect themselves from becoming victims of extortion.

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