Why Are Some Mugshots Not Online?

April 16, 2021

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Every day, people are arrested. Many of these arrests are for minor violations. And plenty of them are false arrests. For some categories, only 45 percent of arrests lead to a conviction.

Despite this, arrest records can stick around for a long time. A person falsely arrested or never convicted might find their mugshot online years after the incident.

Online mugshots can hurt your career, personal life and well-being. At the same time, there are convicted felons out there, and their records aren’t available anywhere.

So, why does this discrepancy exist? And why are mugshots ever published online?

Why Are Some Mugshots Not Online?

If you do a quick Google search, you find plenty of websites that list mugshots of people arrested in your area. These directories have multiple purposes.

In some cases, they help with public awareness and help authorities track missing, dangerous individuals. In others, they simply create problems for people arrested at some point.

Regardless, you’ll find there are thousands of people who have faced arrest and don’t appear in these directories. So, why are some mugshots not online?

The answer to this question runs deeper than you might imagine. It’s a complicated concept and when you know more about it, you’ll understand the best way to remove your mugshot from any of these sites.

Are Mugshots Public Record?

In short, yes. Mugshots are part of the public arrest record. Typically speaking, the mugshot is taken during booking, when a person is arrested. This photo is included in the general arrest record, and those records are always available to the public.

In the majority of cases, these records are kept within a county office. For some state and federal arrests, the records will be kept by state or federal authorities.

But Why?

Why are mugshots kept as public records? The reason dates back to the origins of the country. The founders were concerned with accountability for the state, police and courts. So, they included the right to trial into the Constitution and an extension of that was to make arrests public record.

The justification is that it’s harder for the government to unjustly lock someone away if there is a public record of the arrest. Loved ones, journalists and other interested parties can track the record to find everyone who is being held and why.

Mugshots are an extension of this. Since the mugshot is part of the booking process, the picture can be used to confirm who is in jail. It is an important method of accountability for the state.

In the digital age, this method can become a double-edged sword. While it is still important for arrest records to be public, having a mugshot online can have a negative impact on the person arrested, even if they are never convicted. This is why there is a movement to remove mugshots and arrest records from easy public access.

How Long Does It Take Mugshots to Appear Online?

This depends on a number of factors, but it mostly boils down to the efficiency of law enforcement. Not all departments move with the same efficiency, and that is the primary factor in how long it takes records to show up.

If everything is processed efficiently, the mugshot will take an average of 1-3 days to show up on websites. If the county is slow in records processing, it can take longer. Some counties average a full month before the records start showing up online.

Timing can be made worse by Google and other search engines. It can take months for AI to find a particular piece of information and boost its visibility.

For this reason, some mugshots may never be found online, even though the information is public. Other mugshots can show up in a matter of hours. It depends on how the search engines rank the information.

Can You Have Your Mugshot Removed From the Internet?

The answer to this question depends on the state. Each state has its own rules and regulations, and they are mostly split on this particular point.

There are states that prohibit the online publishing of mugshots. If a mugshot is on file in one of those states, third-party websites cannot publish the photos, and violations can lead to fines and prosecution. In states where no such laws exist, third-party sites can publish mugshots, and many charge a fee to remove them.

To remove a mugshot from a website, check your state laws. If any laws are broken, consult with an attorney to remove those pictures.

In a state where these laws are not in effect, the best bet is to contact the party hosting the mugshot. Discuss removal with the site owner. Depending on why they have the information in the first place, that discussion can go in a number of directions. But most sites listing mugshots will ask for money before they take it down.

Get Help Removing Your Mugshot From the Internet

If you or someone you know has a mugshot on the internet, we can help. Contact us today.

We show you how to expunge your photo from all websites so that it won’t plague you. If you want to delete online mugshots, let us help.

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