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My mug shot was posted online and the 3 websites florida.arrests.org, bustedmugshots.com, and tampacriminals.com. is this legal?

Tampa, FL |

I was arrested last year a few times for driving with out a license. In the process of being arrested, I was booked and "MUG" shots where taken. These websites have posted them online and made me loose 2 jobs. They want money and are profiting from my hard times. People can pay money to see my record, or i have to pay to have it removed. Is this legal and what can i do? I'm not a thug/gangster. Just hard working guy with bad driving habits. Please advise what can i do to have them take it down other then paying them??

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Yes, it appears that these mugshot sites are posting public information, and so are protected. No one agrees with their business model. But, I have seen little here on AVVO to indicate success in forcing items to be removed absent expungement or sealing. You could see an attorney about that. Or, you can pay them, but who knows if that will work.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.

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4 comments

Asker

Posted

It is not considered slander or some kind of Defamation? They are also gaining money from commercial purposes without my express permission. I can take your picture you have and post it online and sell it?

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

Defmation requires falsehood. They are gaining from posting a public record. You did not take the picture, so it is not yours. No one agrees with what they are doing, but a method of suppressing it has not, to my knowledge, yet been found.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

It is not "your picture you have". It is the public. Truth is a defense to a charges of slander or defamation. People do not need your permission to make money, otherwise Wal-Mart would need your permission. Few people like free speech when it attacks them, but in the USA we allow free speech even when it hurts. You received your answer. End of discussion.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

If you want to stop mugshots.com get the state to register copyrights on their mugshots and let the state sue mugshots.com for copyright infringement in Federal court like you or I would have to do if it were our copyright. As for blogging to try to convince us you are right, it's rather pointless if you can't pay. Pay us or don't and we will represent you or won't.

Posted

Police records such as mug shots are public records. You see them all the time with Hollywood types (Lohan, Gibson, Baldwin etc...) and it is disgusting, but legal. Freedom guaranteed by our First Amendment is quite broad.

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17 comments

Asker

Posted

It is not considered slander or some kind of Defamation? They are also gaining money from commercial purposes without my express permission. I can take your picture you have and post it online and sell it?

Alan James Brinkmeier

Alan James Brinkmeier

Posted

Freedom guaranteed by our First Amendment is quite broad.

Asker

Posted

your dodging my answer? They can from commercial purposes gain money from my picture and personal information, i.e. where i live and work?

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

It is PUBLIC information, no matter how personal it may feel to you.

Asker

Posted

Ok, Thank you for time.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

If you do find a way, please let me know. Always eager to learn a new, legal, method to achieve justice. Best of luck to you.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

You can publicize your dislike of the mugshot shakedown businesses. That is your right. You can refuse to pay them. That is your right. If people want to publish public records, that is their right and if they want to require money not to exercise their public right, that is their choice. You should pass a constitutional amendment to make such websites illegal. If the public thinks it's as important as you do maybe it might pass. I would rate your odds at about zero percent.

Asker

Posted

Bruce, you sound like you are pro mugshots website. The owner of arrests.org, Robbert Wiggen, is a crook profiting off the misfortune of others. His company is called CrunchLine llc. As per Florida law, Unauthorized publication of name or likeness.-- (1) No person shall publish, print, display or otherwise publicly use for purposes of trade or for any commercial or advertising purpose the name, portrait, photograph, or other likeness of any natural person without the express written or oral consent to such use ... Which is exactly what he is doing. Yes, it is a public record, but to profit off the removal of that record that he has intentionally placed as high up in a search string as possible so as to have malicious intent is not legal.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

No one here is pro mugshots. But, until they start losing lawsuits, it appears that they are protected by the 1st Amendment. So, sue, or don't sue, but blogging AVVO will not produce results. We are lawyers. We sue who our clients pay us to sue.

Asker

Posted

Thanks anonymous, that's exactly what I was saying and everyone here would not answer. I keep reading it's illegal. These lawyers here for the most part only care about post counts. 2 of the answers I received where copy and paste. I was will be contacting a lawyer ASAP to have him send letters out.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

Glad to hear you are doing something about it: hiring an attorney. My "post count" does not effect my "participation" (at 20) and is not part of practice standing. You will win, or lose. Let us know what the court says.

Asker

Posted

Barry please exclude yourself from my comment it was not directed towards you. Thanks again for your time your about the only one who don't read like a robot or copy and paste.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

I am sure we would ALL wecome a way to curtail mugshots. It "feels" to me like extortion, too. However, "feel" has little to do with the case in court, if anything. They can be expected to mount a vigorous defense. I will watch for any outcome.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

I think there is a way, through legislation. 17 USC 290e could be expanded to cover public mugshot databases, so that states could claim copyright to them for purposes of insuring integrity like they do with National Standards. Then, the state could sue mugshots.com etc. and shut them totally down as copyright infringers and it would not be a violation of free speech (copyrights are expessly authorized by the Constitution).

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

I suggest the solution is legislation having states register copyright on such photographs either individually or as compilations so that people can view but not copy, which would allow states to shut down these sites as copyright infringers. Note:Copyright law protects not only works created by individuals and commercial entities, but also some governmental works. Under section 105 of the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright protection is not available for works of the United States government absent some special statutory exception such as 15 USC 290e. However, no similar prohibition exists for works of state and local governments.

Barry Franklin Poulson

Barry Franklin Poulson

Posted

Very creative, Mr. Burdick, and it looks like it would work. The trick may be to interest congress. The Attorney General could do that.

Asker

Posted

Mr. Burdick, thank you for your response. I am a young male in the job market right now, and a little over a year ago I was arrested for disorderly conduct. There have been times when I probably should have been arrested, but wasn't, but in this instance I was asking an officer why my friends had been singled out in a bar of hundreds for underage drinking and was thrown against the cop car, told to shut up and not ask questions, and that I was going to jail. This will show up on a background check, which I am prepared to deal with. My beef is w/ these mugshots websites, b/c not all HR departments do background checks, but just about all will do a Google search of a candidates name. I have been contacting some Consumer Advocate lawyers and am trying to get this taken care of. Even if I can only get the search result taken down, I would be happy. But thank you again for your response.

Posted

Yes, its legal. Please read my guide about it below.

The author is a Maryland attorney; however no answer given on Avvo is intended as legal advice or intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Dan's expertise lies in the electronic entertainment (video game) industry, as well as complex internet law issues, electronic free speech, entertainment law, copyright and trademark law, and computer fraud. He primarily represents game developers and founders of emergent internet technologies.

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Posted

It's public record. Yes, posting a public record is legal. There is little or nothing you can do to have them take your public record down other than pay them. The way to avoid having them post a mugshot is to not do anything that results in a mugshot. If they are not claiming you are a thug or gangster what is the relevance of your claim not to be a thug or gangster? None that I can determine. Are you claiming that the mugshots of accused thugs/gangster can be posted but drug dealers, rapists, child molesters, business fraudsters, embezzlers, etc cannot?

Free speech provides the answer, provided they are not infringing copyright, publicity right, privacy rights, etc. So far, the law is on their side. There is a strong push by criminals to make these websites illegal, but the criminals so far do not have a lot of support other than from other criminals for the proposition that public arrest records should be non-public. On the contrary, the prevalent view is that public records should be public.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.

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6 comments

Asker

Posted

They should not be able to profit off of it. It's black mail.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

No, it's not blackmail (aka extortion or "shakedown"). If they sent you a letter saying that unless you pay them they will post your mugshot, that would be blackmail. They are smarter than to do that. Their evil game is just the reverse of blackmail. They have already published the details (the mugshot) and are not threatening anything and are even offering to remove them, for a fee. In fact, their scheme makes the criminal the one who looks bad, since the criminal is paying them to cover up a public record and, arguably, commit a fraud by deceiving people into thinking there is no public record. In fact, if these sites are committing blackmail, then how is the Government not also committing blackmail by having an expungement procedure where you do essentially the same thing - pay to have your record hidden from public view? Do you see the problem with your line or reasoning, or are you too emotional to use logic?

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

The theory is that people have a right to be warned about people who may cause them harm. Driving on a suspended license is more than a "bad driving record." It is a crime for a reason.

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

Especially where it happened several times.

Bruce E. Burdick

Bruce E. Burdick

Posted

Or say, molesting little kids or scamming widows or burglarizing neighborhood homes/cars. I suggest the solution is legislation having states register copyright on such photographs either individually or as compilations so that people can view but not copy, which would allow states to shut down these sites as copyright infringers. Note:Copyright law protects not only works created by individuals and commercial entities, but also some governmental works. Under section 105 of the Copyright Act of 1976, copyright protection is not available for works of the United States government absent some special statutory exception such as 15 USC 290e. However, no similar prohibition exists for works of state and local governments.

Heather Morcroft

Heather Morcroft

Posted

That's a good idea, but what would the incentive be for states? I doubt the states are terribly concerned about the posting of these photos.

Posted

The only time I've heard of these mugshot type websites removing the photo without paying their fee, is when the charges are dropped or the person is. Acquitted of the crime. If this applied to your situation, request the website to remove your photo, they may agree.

Information presented on Avvo is not intended to be legal advice and should not be relied upon. It does not create an attorney client relationship and confidential information should not be provided in an open forum.

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