How Can I Get My Mugshot Removed?
An arrest for a crime, let alone a conviction, can seriously damage your livelihood. Even if you don’t get convicted of a criminal offense, you could still suffer humiliation from friends, family, colleagues, and even strangers because of your arrest. Although you are innocent until proven guilty, society can be ruthless to those who are arrested, even if their charges were dismissed.
One example of this is that countless companies post mugshots online for the purpose of making a profit from the very individuals they display on their websites. Many people argue that it’s a belittling and inconsiderate way of making money, but these companies thrive off of people’s mistakes in life. The effects of your publicly accessible mugshot could be devastating, for instance:
- You could lose your job
- Your family and friends may cut ties with you
- You may lose financial aid
- You could lose housing opportunities
- Your professional licenses/certifications may be revoked
Many states don’t offer much protection to individuals who have to pay a fee to get their mugshots removed online. In Georgia, however, you can get your mugshot off the internet for free.
Steps to Remove Mugshot from Google
Two changes to Georgia law include the free removal of mugshots online if the arrest is eligible for restriction or has been restricted. If this condition is satisfied, the website must remove the mugshots within 30 days of receiving the written request, or else such companies could face civil and criminal penalties.
The second element of Georgia’s law prohibits law enforcement from publishing mugshots online and mugshot companies from using the photos to publish them online and charge money for removal.
With this in mind, if your arrest is eligible for restriction and/or has been restricted, you can send a written request for removal. It must include:
- Your name
- Date of birth
- Arrest date
- Name of the arresting agency
- A copy of your final disposition from the court where your case was resolved (optional)
So, where do you even start? How do you write this request effectively? To help ease the confusion, the Georgia Justice Project (GJP) offers a sample removal letter on its website, and you must send the letter via certified mail with return receipt requested or statutory overnight delivery because the company has 30 days from the delivery date to remove your mugshot. The sample letter looks like this:
(Address of website company)
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to request the removal of my arrest booking photograph posted on your website at (website address) pursuant to O.C.G.A. §10-1-393.5. Georgia law requires that you remove an arrest booking photograph if the arrest is eligible to be restricted or has been restricted within 30 days of the subject individual sending a written request.
O.C.G.A. §10-1-393.5 states the following: “Any person who is engaged in any activity involving or using a computer or computer network who publishes on such person’s publicly available website a subject individual’s arrest booking photograph for the purposes of commerce shall be deemed to be transacting business in this state. Within 30 days of the sending of a written request by a subject individual, including his or her name, date of birth, date of arrest and name of the arresting law enforcement agency, such person shall, without compensation, remove from such person’s website the subject individual’s arrest booking photograph… Without otherwise limiting the definition of unfair and deceptive acts or practices under this part, a failure to comply with this paragraph shall be unlawful.”
My arrest is eligible to be restricted and/or has been restricted. I am providing below the required information to remove the photograph. Please see O.C.G.A. §35-3-37 for restriction eligibility.
Date of Birth: _________________________________________________
Date of Arrest: ________________________________________________
Arresting Agency: ______________________________________________
I expect that my arrest booking photograph will be removed from the website (website address) by (date 30 days from sending). Failure to comply shall be unlawful and subject to civil and criminal penalty under Georgia law.
Whether the mugshot company doesn’t comply with your letter or you need assistance with the process, you can count on our Gwinnett County attorneys to help you out. We can work on your behalf to accurately draft your removal letter and compile supporting documents, helping to expedite the process. If the mugshot company doesn’t remove your photo within the 30-day window, we can pursue criminal action if circumstances call for it.
Count on our trusted team to help resolve your situation and give you the peace of mind you need and deserve. Contact us at (770) 285-1673 to get started!