Criminal charges for Mugshot site owners?
Unfortunately, criminal charges against Mugshot companies have not gained momentum in the United States as of yet. Arguments can be made that this is a criminal enterprise because of the “extortion” aspect. However, because the Mugshot websites are not doing anything but capitalizing on people misfortune of being arrested by charging a fee for relinquishing their “right” to post public information about said arrestee, they are not committing any crime according to most prosecutors. Prosecutors universally say there are civil remedies for victims of this type of thing but it is not criminal (unless the mugshot is being used by a stalker) – at least not yet. However, maybe someday, they will change that position.
Thus, until these Mugshot companies no longer have the “right” to post the information, not much can be done to say they are criminally extorting people by posting their image and charges. The United State’s Attorney is ultimately charged with the prosecution of this type of problem. To date, no U.S. Attorney or Florida State Prosecutor has stepped up to bring criminal RICO charges against any of the Mugshot sites.
However, there is a material difference, criminally speaking, between a Mugshot website just posting a person’s image and a Mugshot website “posing” as company that will restore one’s reputation and delete people’s Mugshots, when in reality it is just a fraudulent scheme. When a Mugshot website/company is both posting an image and then tricking the consumer into believing they are deleting it, when in reality they have found a willing “paying” pawn to trick - is when there is a big problem. When a company is taking your money to fix your reputation and then just deleting it on their sites and all their sister sites, then that is fraud and potentially actionable criminally.
RICO LAW: This is a racketeering statute (both Federal and State) generally states that no person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise shall conduct or participate in, directly or indirectly, the affairs of the enterprise through a pattern of corrupt criminal activity. The corrupt criminal activity in the context of a Mugshot posting company is essentially the wrongful appropriation, without consent, of the names, photographs, images, and likenesses of the plaintiffs for a commercial purpose that benefits only the defendants, and to extort money from the plaintiffs by fraudulent means.
Under this legal theory, Mugshot companies are acting individually and in concert to offer to remove a person’s Mugshot (and charge information) in exchange for a “removal” or “takedown” fee; and upon payment of said fee. After payment, the picture may or may not disappear from the website but then appears on another website operated by or affiliated with the entity that charged the fee. The corrupt criminal process proceeds because the jointly owned Mugshot posting websites are operated by or in conjunction with Mugshot removal websites, alternately operating as takedown sites when in reality they also all owned and operated by the same person(s).
If you have information this is happening, it should be reported to the U.S. Attorney General.