How can Mugshot sites Charge me to remove my image?

We get asked very often by potential clients how a mugshot website can show their mugshot and also offer a ‘quarantine, removal or permanent deletion. Many times clients use the word extortion when describing the use of their image on the mugshot site such as Mugshots.com or BustedMugshots.

We utilize the services of a 3rd party lawyer to remove our clients from mugshot sits as its a quick and easy fix and it is done in one shot. We have noticed its mostly lawyers in fact that dwell in the mugshot underworld. Our lawyer pointed us to a link that she said fits the bill for this type of question so for the many requesting this information here you go.

Is mugshot removal illegal or extortion?

Is mugshot removal illegal or extortion?

This post was taken from¬†¬† http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/choosing-forum-for-invasion-of-privacy-lawsuit–fe-597021.html in response to a paralegal looking to file a class action lawsuit.

There is this pesky constitutional provision called the First Amendment. Mug Shots or persons who were arrested and/or convicted are public documents. If you were arrested and/or convicted, and if your mug shot is publicly available, this is a public record that records an actual and truthful fact–that you were either arrested or convicted. If someone published a list of persons who had been arrested for DUI, as long as the list is accurate, no one could possibly complain about the fact that his name appears on this list. The same is true for lists and photographs of registered sex offenders. The same is true for mug shots. Do they have the potential for harming your reputation. You bet!! Do you have a claim based on this harm—no way. Is it illegal for companies to accept fees in exchange for removing your photo from its published collection of mug-shots? Clearly not.

Here is your problem—-a mug shot was taken of you. It is available from sources on line. You do not own the copyright in the mug-shot—the copyright is owned by whoever took the photograph and/or the governmental authority who paid him. Thus, you have no legal right to limit its use and distribution. It is a true picture that reflects an unfortunate but real event that occurred in your life. Guess what–you have no claim for invasion of privacy—you have no right to keep private your arrest and conviction history—including mug shots.

The only potential claim would be for violation of your right of publicity. But this will not fly because the mug shot companies are not suggesting that you endorse their products—they simply publish mug shots of persons who were arrestee and/or convicted.

Indeed, my view is that your claims would be frivolous. I suspect that very few lawyers would be willing to pursue such claims—I would be worried that I would face Rule 11 Sanctions if I would do so.

Also, even if you could somehow conjure up a valid claim, your assertion as to damages seems to be absurdly high. You cannot just make up a number—you have to have evidence of actual economic harm. It is far from clear that you could prove actual economic harm from publication of this mug-shot. You say it has caused “immeasurable loss” but in court, you have to provide evidence that can be verified and quantified—not mere speculation.

And you also have to show that the proximate cause of your loss is publication of the mug shot—and it is probably impossible for you to satisfy this requirement. The proximate cause of your loss was your arrest or conviction—not the mug short which merely records something that happened to you. People get charged with crimes–often incorrectly. And the taint of being charged with a crime often has adverse consequences, even if the charges or dropped or you are acquitted at trial. Life is unfair, but that does not always give rise to legal claims.

You have a long and difficult challenge ahead of you. Federal court is no place for pro per litigation and RICO is difficult even for highly experienced legal specialists. If your potential claim is sound, you should be able to find skilled counsel who will accept the case on contingency and that is your best course. If you cannot find a skilled and experienced attorney (federal litigator) who will take the case on contingency, you should consider that a consensus that you are unlikely to prevail.