How Do You Remove Mugshots for Free?

February 18, 2021

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Can you remove mugshots for free? We show you when it’s possible and when it’s time to call in a pro

First, How Does a Mugshot Get Online?

To remove a mugshot removed for free, first you have to understand how a mugshot got onto a website. In general, mugshots or booking photos follow these steps before going online:


1. The arrest and booking process

Once arrested, individuals typically transfer from custody to a jail cell. But in order to track the arrested individual in records, law enforcement completes what is called processing. This includes the booking photograph, or what is commonly referred to as a mugshot.


2. FOIA request for new or existing mugshots 

FOIA stands for Freedom of Information Act. It’s is designed to hold government agencies accountable. Unfortunately, enterprising individuals often undermine FOIA and use FOIA requests to access mugshots.


Anyone can submit FOIAs for mugshots, for example, they can be a journalist representing a local paper, or they can be an individual with no connections at all.


3. The photograph is uploaded to a website 

With the mugshot in hand, the individual can upload it to their desired publication. This could be anything from a local newspaper news feed to a mugshot website. These sites are where you need to focus your energy when removing mugshots from the web.


What is a Mugshot Website?

Mugshot websites exist solely to host mugshots. Many claim to provide information to the public — and in part they maybe do. But they also prey on those individuals whose photographs they post.


This is because once a mugshot is posted on a mugshot website, many will refuse to take it down unless the person’s who mugshot it is can properly prove exoneration of the crime or, more often, pay a dictated “ransom” fee. This ransom fee can be a couple of hundred dollars or even a couple of thousand depending upon the website and the arrested crime.


In other words, they work to make it close to impossible to remove mugshots online for free.


But, even worse, it isn’t just your picture that a mugshot website can publish. Underneath a booking photograph, a mugshot website may also include your:


  • Name
  • Age
  • Current job
  • General location
  • Ability to apply for credit

How to Remove Mugshots Online for Free

Over the last decade, many mugshot websites have faced lawsuits from individuals and agencies for misusing photographs and information online. These lawsuits have forced changes to many state laws. As a result, many states now ban mugshot websites from publishing mugshots and requiring payment for removal.


But if your booking photograph is already online, there are still a number of steps to remove mugshots online for free:


First, Learn How to Remove Mugshots Online for Free

1. Check state laws 

First things first. Check the laws in your state. Many state laws either prohibit mugshot websites altogether or clearly outline how to remove mugshots online for free. This may include such anything from submitting written documentation via mail to requesting the website remove mugshots online as soon as possible.


2. Were you cleared of the charges?

If so, some states make it easy to remove mugshots for free. Simply send the website(s) your cleared arrest record. Nearly all states require the removal of arrest information once you’re cleared of charges.


3. Was the case sealed or expunged?

In some situations, mugshot removal is possible even when you’re found guilty. Unfortunately, this often requires a lawyer and extensive legal wrangling. In such cases, you should expunge or seal your records first. If successful, use that paperwork to make your case and remove mugshots online for free.


4. Are you the victim of identity theft?

Some people have unflattering information online despite their complete innocence. This generally happens due to mistaken identity or identity theft. Often, the stranger’s booking photo displays alongside the innocent person’s name, age, location and other identifying info. This information often comes from public records databases available to anyone with an internet connection.


In these cases, you may ask the website to remove mugshots online for free. If that falls short, you may consider legal action.


Going Into Escalation: How to Delete Mugshots When Things Get Worse

Fortunately, when other removal methods don’t work, you still have options.


But how do you remove mugshots online for free once you’re convicted of the crime? Or when the information with your booking photo is correct?


If you meet the above criteria, try the following:


Appeal to the mugshot webmaster for other grounds 

Just because they aren’t legally required to take down a booking photograph, doesn’t mean you can’t still persuade the mugshot website to. Use their question or contact page to submit a request and ask what can be done to get it removed. Make your case for removing your mugshot.


Contact Google and other search engines

In some cases, Google and other search engines have agreed to either outright remove certain search engine results or suppress them. However, while you can ask them directly to do this for free, this method generally works best when applied by a reputation and online removal company. Such a firm utilizes extensive experience and knowhow to remove your mugshot fast.


Bury the bad results with good ones

Search engine suppression is most successful for those found guilty of charges. Here, the goal is not the complete removal of a mugshot and the connected personal information from online, but rather the full burial of it so that only someone who knows what website to look on, will ever find it.


You can do this for free by taking a bunch of pictures of yourself and using them to post on various websites and create blog-like content with your image and information on websites like Tumblr and WordPress. Caption each photo with your name and use the exact spelling and spacing used with your mugshot.


While your mugshot photo and information won’t disappear right away, it will gradually drop from searches of your name and information.


When Your Removal Hits a Brick Wall, Call in the Pros

While it is possible for you to follow the above strategies and remove mugshots on your own, it can be rough. It can be overwhelming And it can require a lot of work.


There’s a lot of messaging to appeal to webmasters as well as legal paperwork in the event that you are trying to get your mugshot removed following state laws. Or if you opt for the burial method either by choice or by necessity, then you may not have the time or social media know-how for doing it effectively.


For all these reasons and more, consider hiring a professional mugshot removal firm like


Need a mugshot removed? Contact us to start the removal process today.

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