Mugshot Removal

A Florida law passed in 2017 that attempted to address the longstanding mugshot website industry that emerged in the wake of the internet revolution. Most Floridians are familiar with websites that mine mugshots from the internet and display them to the world. The websites traditionally made a profit by charging exorbitant fees to remove the photographs, even if they belong to someone who had their case dismissed or were found not guilty at trial. The entire industry operated based on a system of legal, if not immoral, extortion of money from the innocent and guilty alike. The industry fed off of embarrassment and humiliation without regard to personal privacy or decency.

Traditional methods of sealing or expunging criminal records never applied to the mugshot websites. Sealing and expungement laws were designed to order government agencies to destroy records, not privately owned companies. Even those who were innocent of the crimes they were arrested for had little legal recourse other than to pay what amounted to a semi-legal ransom. Further, even after the payment of whatever sum the websites demanded, there was never any guarantee that the mugshot would not be posted to a different website, creating what amounted to a very expensive game of Whack-A-Mole. Despite this new law, the websites will continue to post every mugshot they can find in order to generate income from advertisement revenue.

The new law is directed straight at the private online mugshot companies. However, the law was narrowly drafted to only apply to people or entities that solicit or accept payment for the removal of mugshot photographs. The law requires such companies to remove a mugshot within 10 days of receiving a formal request to do so. If they fail to remove the mugshot within 10 days, you can sue the company for an injunction to force them to remove the photograph. The judge presiding over the lawsuit can also impose fines on the company of $1,000 a day for non-compliance. If the company blatantly refuses to remove the mugshot, they can be sued civilly under the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. It is important to remember that this law only applies to websites that accept or ask for payment in exchange for removing the mugshots. In order to get around this law, many websites have changed their policies and no longer accept payments to remove mugshots. In many circumstances it is still possible for us to convince websites to remove mugshots.

The mugshot removal law became effective July 1, 2018. If you or someone you know is interested in having their mugshots removed from the internet, please call the lawyers at Lindsey & Ferry, P.A. Our attorneys are dedicated to helping people successfully remove embarrassing mugshots from the internet, and in many circumstances, can help you seal or expunge the criminal case that created the mugshot. Don't wait to call us. The longer you wait, the more websites can capitalize on your misfortune.