You’ve been arrested. The Sheriffs office took a picture perfect mugshot of you. You get released and the next day you type your name into Google and see your mugshot on a number of mugshot related websites, right at the top of Google’s search results, for everyone, including family, current and potential employers, and the rest of the world to see. You do some research and realize that a mugshot is public information, available to anyone who requests access to one. You’re worried that this picture will be there forever, and with your somewhat uncommon name, it very well may be. But it gets better, you go through the criminal process and the State of Georgia ultimately decides not to prosecute you. Or maybe you were acquitted or you completed the necessary terms of probation. But your mugshot is still there. What do you do?
On May 6, 2013 Governor Deal signed House Bill 150, a bill that amends Georgia law effective immediately allowing anyone arrested in Georgia limited ability to request removal of their mugshot from commercial websites without a fee. House Bill 150 doesn’t apply to all situations, but the statute as currently read allows removal in the following circumstances:
A) Where access to an individual’s case or charges was restricted pursuant to Code Section 35-3-37
B) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was never referred for further prosecution to the proper prosecuting attorney by the arresting law enforcement agency and the offense against such individual was closed by the arresting law enforcement agency
C) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the statute of limitations expired
D) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was referred to the prosecuting attorney but was later dismissed
E) Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the grand jury returned two no bills
F) After indictment or accusation, all charges were dismissed or nolle prossed
G) After indictment or accusation, the individual pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of possession of a narcotic drug, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drug and was sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Code Section 16-13-2, and the individual successfully completed the terms and conditions of his or her probation
H) The individual was acquitted of all of the charges by a judge or jury.
To request removal of your mugshot you must send a letter via certified mail with return-receipt or statutory overnight delivery including you’re a) full legal name, b) date of birth, c) date of arrest, and d) name of the arresting law enforcement agency. Within 30 days of sending the letter, the offending website must remove your mugshot free of charge. Note that the law does not apply to certain websites including:
the publisher, owner, agent, or employee of a newspaper, periodical, or radio station or network, or television station or network in the publication or dissemination in print or electronically of a) news or commentary; or b) an advertisement of or for another person, when the publisher, owner, agent, or employee did not have actual knowledge of the false, misleading, or deceptive character of the advertisement, did not prepare the advertisement, or did not have a direct financial interest in the sale or distribution of the advertised product or service.
Protect your rights. Get your mugshot/book-in/booking photo off the Internet. Contact W. Scott Smith today.