What Is the Importance of Taking Mug Shots in Jails?


Quick Answer

Mug shots serve several purposes, including identification of the perpetrator of a crime by the victim, explains USLegal. A mug shot is taken during the booking process in a jail as a photographic record of the arrested person.

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Full Answer

A mug shot is an official photograph taken as part of the official booking record when an individual is arrested for committing a crime, states Nolo. The general purpose of a mug shot is to preserve a photographic record of the arrested individual, according to USLegal. A mug shot usually consists of two photographs, one of the individual's profile and one front view. Law enforcement officials use mug shots for identification of the arrested individual by victims and investigators.

Additionally, if two people have the same name, a mug shot is used to determine which individual committed the crime, says Nolo. Mug shots are also used to establish the physical condition of the arrested individual during the booking process. If the arrested individual pursues a claim of excessive or unlawful force by a police officer, the mug shot helps establish his physical condition at the time of arrest. It also establishes whether the arrested individual had been in a physical altercation prior to his arrest. For example, if an individual is arrested for murder, a mug shot helps determine if there was a physical struggle prior to the murder.

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