The American criminal justice system is founded on the idea that when you’re arrested or accused of a crime, you’re presumed innocent until a prosecutor actually proves your guilt at a trial. The real world doesn’t always work that way — especially when someone takes your police mugshot and splashes it on the Internet.
Websites like Busted-Mugshots.com or Mugshots-Online.com don’t bother to look at the facts of a case or the strength of the evidence against you before posting your name and picture on their sites in connection with your arrest. They don’t ensure there was no case of mistaken identity or some other circumstance that demonstrates you may be innocent of the charge. They just put up the mugshot for the entertainment of the people who visit their sites. The kicker is they’ve been charging you a fee when you ask to have your personal information removed.
But a recently settled lawsuit in Toledo may put a stop to some of their practices, at least in Ohio.
Toledo attorney Scott Ciolek, who filed the lawsuit on behalf of three people whose names and photos were published on the two mugshot sites, argued that Citizens Information Associates, the company operating the two sites, had taken images that were protected under Ohio’s publicity rights laws and used the three people’s images for commercial gain without their consent.
As part of the settlement, Citizens Information Associates is paying the plaintiffs $7,500, is taking their information down, and agreeing to stop charging fees to remove names and photos from the sites.
That’s good news for defendants in Ohio who already may face the stigma of being accused of a crime — even when innocent — without also experiencing the humiliation of having their names and photos put on public display.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and are worried about your face showing up on one of these websites, please call attorney Ben Luftman at (614) 500-3836 for a free consultation. He is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.