A mugshot website is one which collects booking photos from jails and prisons and then shows them on the website.  Since the photos are taken by a public agency they are often considered a public record.

To make money the mug shot website then charges a fee to have the photo removed.  The fees can sometimes run in the hundreds of dollars or more, and once a person pays one website they may find their photo popping up on other websites – each demanding a fee to remove the embarrassing photograph.

Effective January 1, 2015, Senate Bill 1027 removes the ability to profit from booking photos in California.

Civil Code Section 1798.91.1 is adopted, which reads:

 

(a) For the purposes of this section, the following
definitions shall apply:
(1) "Booking photograph" means a photograph of a subject individual taken pursuant to an arrest or other involvement in the criminal justice system.
(2) "Subject individual" means an individual who was arrested.
(3) "Person" means a natural person, partnership, joint venture, corporation, limited liability company, or other entity.
(4) "Public entity" means the state, county, city, special district, or other political subdivision therein.
(b) It shall be unlawful practice for any person engaged in publishing or otherwise disseminating a booking photograph through a print or electronic medium to solicit, require, or accept the payment of a fee or other consideration from a subject individual to remove, correct, modify, or to refrain from publishing or otherwise disseminating that booking photograph.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), a public entity may require and accept a reasonable administrative fee to correct a booking photograph.
(d) Each payment solicited or accepted in violation of these provisions constitutes a separate violation.
(e) In addition to any other sanctions, penalties, or remedies provided by law, a subject individual may bring a civil action in any court of competent jurisdiction against any person in violation of this section for damages in an amount equal to the greater of one thousand dollars ($1,000) per violation or the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result, along with costs, reasonable attorney's fees, and any other legal or equitable relief.
(f) The jurisdiction of a civil action brought pursuant to subdivision (e) shall also include the county in which the subject individual resides at the time of the violation of this section.

 

Questions and Answers:

 

Does the California mugshot law prevent websites from posting mugshot photos?

No.

 

Does the California mugshot law prevent websites from demanding payment to remove the photos?

Yes.

 

Does the California mugshot law require that websites remove the mugshot photos?

No.

 

Does the California mugshot law prevent websites from accepting payment for removal of the mugshot photos?

Yes.

 

What if I want to pay to have my mug shot photo removed from a website?

Too bad.  The ironic aspect of the law if even if you unilaterally send money for removal, without any request, a website can have liability for accepting your payment.  The result is the law may forever harm you because there is no incentive for websites to remove mug shot photos.

Note that the mugshot websites have other possible means of monetizing their site other than removal fees.  Such as general banner advertising.

The result of the law is even if you feel you are being defamed by a photo and you want to pay to have the picture removed, it will not be removed.  The harm to your career, reputation and person and will outweigh the cost of removing the mug shot a million times over.  The legislative analysis reflects this issue was considered but the legislature decided it was more important to withhold money from websites than to protect your privacy and reputation.

There are, fortunately, creative ways to get around the law and legally pay to have your mugshot removed.  With this short, but very concise $10 report, you will get 3 ways to circumvent the California mugshot law.  Attorney prepared and this is the only place on the Internet where you will find these methods.  Go Here to Order.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to booking pictures taken in California of a person who lived in another state at the time the mug shot was taken?

No, if the mug shot website is not based in California.  If the website is in California then there may be jurisdiction a California court can assume for the website’s activities.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to booking pictures taken in California of a person who lived in California at the time of the mug shot but has since moved out of state?

No, if the mug shot website is not based in California.  If the website is in California then there may be jurisdiction a California court can assume for the website’s activities.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to booking pictures taken in another state of a person who was a California resident at the mug shot was taken, if the mugshot was posted after the person moves to another state?

No, if the mug shot website is not based in California.  If the website is in California then there may be jurisdiction a California court can assume for the website’s activities.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to booking pictures taken in another state of a person who has moved to California after their mug shot was taken?

Yes.  The legislative analysis suggests there is an intent to protect California residents regardless of where the mugshot website is located.  However, there is likely a very good defense that activity legal in one state cannot be made illegal simply because a person moves to California in order to invoke this law and file a lawsuit.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to websites based out of California?

Yes.  The legislative analysis suggests there is an intent to protect California residents regardless of where the mugshot website is located.  However, many other California laws purport to have such broad reach and constitutional issues prevent the courts from acting.  In other words, California cannot legislate that its laws apply to the worldwide Internet.

 

Does the California mugshot law violate the First Amendment?

Answer: This one will need to be decided by the courts, although the legislative analysis notes similar laws have been enacted in about five states (with laws introduced in another fourteen) and presumably that has been litigation to decide this issue.  Commercial speech is typically afforded less First Amendment protection, but the issue here is not a direct restriction on speech.  Mugshots can be posted.  The question is whether a fee can be charged to remove the mugshot, which is an obvious indirect attempt to prevent websites from exercising their right to post and profit from public information.

 

Does the California mugshot law apply to my arrest record, or the fact of my arrest?  What if I was not convicted of a crime?

No.  The new law only applies to booking photographs.  It does not apply to the fact of an arrest, it does not apply to an arrest record, it does not apply to any criminal charges being considered filed – even if charges were never filed – even if you were found innocent of any crime.

 

What will be the practical result of the law?

More websites base their operations offshore so they are untouchable, and they increase the fees charged to remove mug shots.

 

I Need an Attorney:

Please contact attorney Brian Kindsvater via his website contact form available at www.kindsvater.com.

 

If you would prefer to get the 3 ways to circumvent this new law so that you can legally pay to get a website to remove your mugshot, thus saving your reputation, go here for the quick report that tells you exactly what to to.   Only ten bucks, our attorney prepared this report, and you will not find this information and strategies anywhere else.

 

Filed under: Internet Law

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