With lower visibility in Google search engine results and limited methods of payment, mugshot websites appear to be losing steam. But while online mugshots are no longer enjoying the heyday they once had, they are able to profit in other ways, including Bing, Yahoo, and Google ads for bail bonds and related services. As long as these sites are still operating, your arrest photo could show up online.
Fortunately, arrest photos no longer rank high enough to dominate your search results, but they do still pose a problem.
That’s good news for people with prior arrests, but nothing is ever really gone online. Potential employers, creditors, and other interested parties may still dig up your arrest record by using caching or searching the Internet Archive if they’re committed to finding them.
How to Remove Mugshots from Google
If you’re struggling with how to remove a mugshot online, don’t lose hope. You have options, and the law may be on your side. Try the following tips to remove your arrest photo from websites:
- Check the website’s policy. Some websites have what they call a courtesy removal service. If you can prove that you were exonerated or never charged, your photo may be removed. Even if the arrest stuck, if you can demonstrate that you’ve turned your life around, the websites may be convinced to take down your photo. Communication with the websites is a good first step, but keep in mind that they may not be eager to help.
- Find out if you’re protected by law. Your state may have a law that requires mugshot websites to remove photos upon request. Typically, they must be taken down within 30 days of being contacted with the request, or they will be in violation of the law. Georgia and Oregon are two states that currently have these laws, and we expect to see more states join their ranks shortly.
- Push for a larger crackdown on mugshot websites. If your state doesn’t have a mugshot removal law, ask for one. Contact your state lawmakers and encourage them to create a law that will make it easier for you to manage your online reputation.
- Consult an attorney. Class action and individual lawsuits are pending against mugshot websites. You may be able to join or create your own case to remove the photo and possibly win damages.
How long do mugshots stay online?
The short answer is…it depends on the website publishing the image. Some mugshot sites will remove an image with certain documentation. some websites will only update the status or resolution of your case. Some have taken a stance that their content is protected by open record laws and the first amendment. Some are headquartered or registered outside of the United States and therefore consider themselves exempt from the law. Lastly, other websites will keep your page up but remove the images or upload a generic placeholder image instead of your picture.
This is one of the most common questions we receive on a day-to-day basis. Another factor that plays into how long your mugshot will appear online in a search result is the search engine. How long your mugshot stays online in Google is different than Bing. If you share a name with a celebrity it may only appear briefly as a newly listed result that fades out.
If your mugshot appears directly from a website controlled by the local sheriff or county then it may never be deleted and may require a sustained reputation management campaign to suppress it from appearing on the first page of Google or other search engines on the internet.
Ultimately, the outlook is positive for individuals struggling with reputation issues from a prior arrest. Though there are some websites that are still publishing photos and charging for removal, their popularity has clearly taken a nosedive. Individuals with prior arrests now have more options than simply paying for removal. If you’re featured on a mugshot website, seek out every option possible to get your photo removed. Take action, and defend your online reputation.