Q:

How do mug shot searches get the mug shot pictures?

A:

Quick Answer

The mug shot search industry gets mug shot pictures from the websites of local law enforcement agencies, such as county sheriff's offices and police departments. Some mug shot industries also take arrest information from the websites of local newspapers and tabloids.

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Full Answer

When a person is arrested and placed into custody, the arresting agency takes a booking photo and keeps it for its own records. The police department or the sheriff's office also often publishes the booking photos on their respective websites even if the person is still awaiting trial. An arrest, however, does not imply guilt or involvement in criminal activity.

Taking and posting mug shots and booking information are not considered illegal. Most states allow the publication of contemporaneous booking information on law enforcement agencies' websites in accordance to federal, state or local public records laws. Some newspapers also feature a mug shot or daily arrest section on their online sites. The mug shots are not necessarily public record and the law enforcement agency may delete the information once the arrested person is acquitted from the case or released from jail or prison.

Many mug shot publishing industries, however, may take and post the mug shots on their own websites with the intention of extorting money. While some sites may remove mug shots as requested, some charge people money in exchange for removal of the pictures on their site. Some states, such as Utah, Ohio and Georgia have stepped up and passed bills to make it easier for people to have their images removed on mug shot search websites.

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