Licensed in Missouri and Kansas

Your Mugshot Online? New Missouri Law Allows Lawsuits Against Companies that Publish Mugshots and Ask for Money to Remove

If you have ever been arrested, one of your first memories after your arrest is likely the police taking your mugshot. After some time, the charges were resolved – either they were dropped, you were found not-guilty, or you served your sentence. But no matter how it resolved, you may be surprised your past is only a quick online search away from being found.

Finding Your Mugshot Online

According to various news publications and law journals, many for-profit websites publish these mugshots on their websites along with the person's name and criminal charge. Many times, these sites show up very high in online searches of that particular person's name.

Anyone who searches your name will likely see your mugshot at the top of the results.

And some of these companies offer a controversial way out – pay them a large sum of money and they will scrub their site of your image.

The Legal Framework Surrounding Mugshots Online

Some say the First Amendment protects these internet companies publishing these public records, while others argue these sites are extorting people, monetizing humiliation, and misusing public records.

On one hand, the First Amendment does allow these sites to publish mugshots, and proponents argue the public interest is served by allowing easy online searches to determine if someone has been arrested or charged with a crime.

On the other hand, the First Amendment does not protect the act of asking for money to remove these properly published photos. And now some states have responded with legislation criminalizing such payment requests.

Missouri Allows Lawsuits Against Mugshot Companies

In 2014, Missouri became one of the states that outlawed such behavior and allowed victimes to sue these companies.

RSMo. Section 407.1150 states that,

"[i]t shall be unlawful for any person engaged in publishing … criminal record information …to solicit or accept from the subject individual the payment of a fee…to remove or correct criminal record information."

...such as online mugshots.

Not only is this a crime, any person who suffers an injury because of this violation may be awarded an amount equal to $10,000.00 or actual and punitive damages, whichever is greater. In addition, the sites will be responsible for all attorney fees, court costs, and expenses.

Protect Your Rights - Put 20+ Years of Legal Experience On Your Side

If you have been asked to pay money to remove online criminal information, you may be able to file a lawsuit against that company or person. Our Kansas City litigation team has more than 20 years of experience protecting the rights of victims. If you believe you may have a case, please contact us online or give us a call at 816-221-7555.