What is the Georgia Mugshots Law?

February 18, 2021

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What is the current Georgia Mugshots Law? Our blog team breaks down this legislation and what you can to remove that mugshot fast. 

 

How Your Mugshot Got Onto the Internet

Back in 1966, President Lyndon Johnson signed a law aimed at holding government officials and journalists accountable for their actions. Named the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), this law allows any individual to request information from a federal agency. In fact, FOIA disclosures have saved thousands of lives.

 

Unfortunately, there are many eager to abuse FOIA. And it is through this abuse that your mugshot made its way online.

 

Following a series of problematic mugshot requests, a 1996 Sixth Circuit ruling officially allowed for FOIA disclosure of mugshots.  This was despite mugshots being related more to private individuals than federal agency actions.

 

With this ruling, a notorious loophole was created, giving journalists and the general public access to booking photos.

 

It wasn’t long before some recognized the money-making opportunity this loophole created, resulting in what is now the mugshot website industry. Soon, Georgia mugshot companies and others pulled in massive profits, grabbing thousands of mugshots from local gov’t agencies and posting them online.

 

This is done under the guise of performing a public service. But in reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mugshot companies profit by charging “ransom” fees to remove embarrassing photos from the web. Some charge fees of $500 or more.

 

How a Georgia Mugshots Law Gave Individuals Their Privacy Back

Fortunately, many states quickly recognized how predatory this practice was. In some cases, states enacted mugshot laws to help restore individual privacy.

 

What’s more: that privacy won’t cause hundreds of dollars in ransom fees.

 

Georgia was one of those states, passing the Georgia mugshots law (known as Georgia Code Title 10 — Commerce and Trade § 10-1-393.5) in 2013.

 

With passage of this first Georgia mugshot law, the state took a major step to address this harmful practice. This law prohibited mugshot companies from charging individuals fees to remove arrest-related pictures.

 

Unfortunately, there was a caveat. Under the 2013 Georgia mugshots law, individuals could only request photo removal when not convicted of the crime. And those seeking removal were forced to locate their photos and make written requests to clear up their online presence.

 

Of course, this law leaves much to be desired. Under the law’s provisions, an individual arrested for one crime but convicted of another had little-to-no recourse. And anyone with time served could still face considerable consequences due to an online mugshot, even after their sentence was over.

 

 A better Georgia mugshot law

 

Fortunately, good news was on the way. The Georgia General Assembly soon learned of these limitations. And the very next year, they worked to fix them.

 

In 2014, Georgia passed one of the most forward-thinking laws against the mugshot website industry. Listed under GA Code § 35-1-19/, this new law severely limited mugshot or “booking photograph” availability, prohibiting access to such images by any website charging a fee for removal.

 

So, what does this mean? Simply put, the new Georgia mugshots law makes it illegal to request mugshots with the purpose of selling for ransom. Additionally, it is now illegal to transfer a mugshot to a third-party or mugshot site.

 

Of course, this is potentially great news for anyone ever arrested in Georgia. If it’s a Georgia arrest and your mugshot shows up on a mugshot site, you have the advantage. You can start a criminal investigation against the site and whoever provided the picture.

 

How the Georgia Mugshots Law Works for You

Learn how Georgia mugshots laws work and ways to protect your privacy after an arrest:

 

  1. Local police arrest the individual. Shortly after, police take a booking photo.
  2. After taking the photo, law enforcement may not post that image to any website. The exception to this rule refers to the state-run State Sexual Offender Registry (no third-party sites). prohibited from providing copies of that photo to anyone intent on charging a fee for its removal.
  3. Additionally, any individual or publication seeking that photo must submit a statement affirming they will not post it on a mugshot website.
  4. Any individual or publication caught using that photo for illicit purposes may be found guilty of providing a false statement.

 

What If the Arrest Wasn’t in Georgia?

While Georgia is one of the most forward-thinking states in terms of mugshot law and regulation, they aren’t alone. After over a decade of mugshot websites putting profit over people’s lives, many states are passing laws similar to the Georgia mugshots law.

 

For example, new Florida laws make it illegal for any business to post mugshots and demand fees for removal. What’s more: any business failing to remove mugshots within ten calendar days after the request face civil penalties. Potential penalties run in the thousands of dollars and include any associated attorney’s fees.

 

Additionally, Florida authorities may punish refusing image removal, citing unfair or deceptive trade practices. That’s a pretty fantastic incentive!

 

Who Can Remove My Mugshots Online?

Another way to remove your mugshots? Expunge your arrest record.

 

To clear your records effectively, hiring a lawyer may be a good option. An experienced lawyer knows how to navigate the necessary processes and ensure your rights are protected each step of the way.

 

But while an experienced expungement attorney can navigate Georgia mugshots law, they can also be costly. What’s more: an attorney may hit hurdles along the way.

 

For example, when a no-fee site publishes a mugshot, an attorney may have trouble removing the image. And when a lawyer can’t help, it may be time for an online removal services solution.

 

At EraseMugshots.com, we provide an array of mugshot and arrest record removal services. Our removal team works fast to find and delete negative content online – and help clients achieve the online presence they deserve.

 

Need a mugshot removal team you can trust? EraseMugshots.com is here to help.

 

Contact our Mugshot Removal team today to learn more.

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