It is legal to post mug shots online since they are considered public record, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. However, some states have enacted legislation that prohibits publication of mug shots for commercial purposes.
In several states, the law dictates that websites remove mug shots when the state dismisses criminal charges, the National Conference of State Legislatures explains. However, commercial websites often obtain and publish these images shortly after an individual is arrested, after which they are copied and redistributed by other sites. Some of these websites charge a fee for mug shot removal regardless of arrest outcome, the New York Times reports. As a result, various states, including Georgia and Illinois, have enacted laws that forbid the distribution of mug shots for monetary gain.