Pretty much everyone has seen mugshots used outside of a police station. It only takes a trip to the gas station or grocery store to see a tabloid with a less-than-glamorous photo of a celebrity at their lowest on the front of a tabloid. Mugshots capture the moment of arrest, but they don’t go away after the fact. Just like the dejected celebrity mugshots, anyone who has been arrested has a mugshot that may come back to haunt them.
Anybody can be arrested. What matters is conviction, right? Sometimes somebody is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and, after judicial review, a case is dismissed with no charges filed. Even in this case, the mugshot remains as a blemish on their record. In the internet era, dubious companies will post mugshots online, damaging reputations when potential employers or romantic interests look them up on a search engine.
The mugshot issue
A mugshot is public record, which means that others have access to them outside of the police department. In the internet era, some companies collect and post them, asking for money to take them offline. Virginia is one of 18 states to have a law regulating their use, but the laws are often ineffective against phantom online organizations. It’s common that a person will pay to have their photo removed, only to find it on another site soon after. The costs add up as the cycle repeats.
Whether a case was dismissed or a criminal record expunged, sites continue using mugshots online, which may lead to denied job applications, housing opportunities, loan applications and more. There are real losses attached to what can be found online about someone, especially if it’s partial information that doesn’t tell the full story—like a mugshot.
Details matter after arrest
Anyone facing criminal charges has the main goal of proving their innocence and keeping their record clean. While most people think of a courtroom as the final piece of the puzzle, there are many details to clean up after an arrest. In addition to dealing with the potential misuse of mugshots, anyone who has been arrested will want to thoroughly review their record and consider options like record sealing and expungement to help protect your reputation.
There are serious short and long-term implications when arrested. Anyone facing criminal charges should consult with an attorney to discuss the case in detail, making sure that you defend your name now but also protect your image as you look toward the future. A criminal record is costly, and even an unfair arrest may have challenges that surface after the fact.