The internet is an amazing thing and has certainly improved the lives of many Americans in a multitude of ways. You can search virtually any topic and find a wealth of information, often with images and videos that delve even deeper into the subject. Unfortunately, however, the internet can also be a significant source of stress when your personal information is shared without your consent. Individuals who’ve been arrested in Florida are often subjected to a practice in which websites display their mugshots for the world to see.
Who hasn’t searched the internet for information on a contractor you’re thinking of hiring, a kid your child is becoming friends with, a prospective employee, or even a person you’ve begun to date? You can find out all kinds of things through a simple online search, including information that doesn’t always portray a person in the best light.
Fortunately, Florida residents have the right to demand that their mugshot be removed from these for-profit websites. In many cases, working with a skilled mugshot removal attorney can preserve your privacy and reduce the risk of being confronted with an uncomfortable conversation about a past mistake.
What Does the New Mugshot Removal Law Say?
In June 2021, a law was signed into effect that prohibits companies or organizations from publishing or sharing mugshots with the intention of collecting payment to have those images removed. While many of these businesses are continuing to profit from the practice of publishing these photos, they must now remove the images when asked to do so in writing.
If a business fails to comply with a request to remove a mugshot, they face a risk of being subjected to a civil lawsuit by the individual shown in the photos. The penalty for non-compliance can be as high as $1,000 for each day the image remains after the request was issued. If the company removes the image and then displays it again at a later time, the penalty amount can climb to $5,000 per day, and the company may also be held liable for court and attorney fees.
Why Bother Having a Mugshot Removed?
It’s important to understand that just because an individual is arrested and has a mugshot taken, that does not mean they are guilty of any type of crime. Many people who go through the arrest and booking process are eventually found not guilty in a court of law. In other cases, the charges are dropped long before they ever go before a court.
The companies who make money publishing these images don’t care about whether someone is guilty or innocent. They exist simply to profit from individuals who don’t want their image spread across the internet for anyone to see, now or in the future.
One reason to have a mugshot removed is to prevent a future employer from finding the photo and making conclusions about a job applicant or prospective hire. Imagine having to explain how and why you found yourself arrested during a job interview.
Social connections are another powerful reason to have a mugshot removed from the internet. It’s hard enough to find someone you feel comfortable with and who wants the same things in life. Having to sit down and go over the details of a previous arrest doesn’t make it any easier to make or maintain a romantic connection.
What is The Process for Having a Mugshot Removed?
If you find out your image has been displayed on a website that exists solely to profit from removal “fees,” you can begin by sending the website a written request to remove the image immediately. Be sure to retain a copy of the communication for your records.
You’ll need to follow up to ensure the photos were removed as requested. If they remain in place after ten days of issuing the written request, you can move forward with a civil suit against the company.
Working with a mugshot removal attorney is a great way to reach the desired result without having to spend hours working through the process yourself. These companies know that a letter from an experienced attorney is not to be ignored, and they are likely to act quickly to remove the mugshot once they receive a professional letter.
If by chance the company fails to comply, your attorney can draft and file legal paperwork on your behalf to begin a civil suit. This allows you to seek compensation under the new law and may end up getting a nice sum if the photo remains online for a significant amount of time after the initial request for removal.
You’ll be kept in the loop as the process moves forward. Having a trusted legal professional on your side means less stress and a better chance at a successful outcome. Don’t allow companies who prey on an individual’s desire for privacy to ruin your chance at a new job, new relationship, or new friendship. Let a skilled legal team manage the process on your behalf for a very reasonable cost.