What Exactly is a Mugshot Photo?
Typically a “mugshot” is a picture of a person that gives a clear view of the face, or “mug.” Police and other law enforcement agencies use mugshots to identify and keep track of people that have been arrested. Mugshots are also known as arrest photos or booking photos. Each time a person is arrested for a crime and booked into jail the police take a picture and keep it on file. If a person has been arrested 100 times, they will have 100 mugshot photos.
Solving Crimes with Mugshot Photos
Although facial recognition software is doing most of the heavy lifting these days, mugshots used to play a big role in identifying suspected criminals. If a victim had a general idea of what the suspect looked like the police could show them mugshots. If one of those mugshots became a positive identifying match, they could easily build a case against the person in the picture and move forward with the prosecution.
Are Mugshots Considered Public Records?
It all depends on what state. Yes, mugshots are definitely records, but whether or not they are allowed to be available to the general public depends on the governing factors of the state. In some states, there are laws that specifically say that mugshots are subject to law enforcement exemptions. In other states, like California, mugshots are considered public domain and can legally be used without permission. The best way to avoid having a mugshot in the first place is to not get arrested. Once they take that picture, it is out of your hands.
Are People With Mugshots Guilty of Crimes?
When people are booked into jail and get a photo taken it is before any court processing has happened. Anybody who gets booked on charges and goes to jail gets a booking photo. It does not mean they are guilty of any crime. Law enforcement can arrest anybody and book them for crimes at any time. It is only through a trial or admission of guilt that the person is actually convicted for the crime. Just because somebody has been arrested does not mean they are a criminal, nor does it mean that they actually committed the crime they were arrested for. In America, all people are innocent until proven guilty.
Can Mugshots Be Removed?
The short answer to this question is yes. However, this all depends on the circumstances. If you got arrested and were not convicted of the crime you can check with the state that you were arrested in and find out how to remove your arrest records from public view. If you were convicted for the crime, the only way to remove your photo from public records is to get your record expunged. Even after this, you have to scour the internet for any pictures that are out there on websites that provide public information and ask them to remove the photo.