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Mugshots And Morals

An article from the New York Times recently examined the issues involved in the mugshot publishing industry which has sprung up in the past several years. This is something I hear about all of time from clients and have been interviewed about before. Anyone arrested for a DUI in Johnson County, or any other crime, and who is booked into the Johnson County Jail will have his or her picture taken, also known as a mugshot. For some inexplicable reason, the Johnson County Sherriff has elected to post all of these mugshots online with data about the arrest including the person’s name and the crime for which he or she was arrested. The scumbags in the online mugshot industry come through and scrape all of that data from the sheriff’s website and repost it on theirs, which can often include attempts to be funny, to taunt and to humiliate the arrested person. The information is then public and online for eternity causing personal and professional problems for the accused.

Even if you beat the case, even if it was dismissed because it was an issue of mistaken identity, the mugshot stays. I have had clients call me in a panic because they applied for a job and the potential employer googled their name and the first thing that popped up was their mugshot. The dirtballs at the mugshot website then extort the people by offering to remove the mugshot in exchange for a fee, often between $80 and $300. The problem is that once you pay the fee they know that you are the type of person who will pay and they continue to post the mugshot elsewhere and/or sell the information to other dirtballs. It becomes a vicious cycle that can get very expensive.

Certain states have enacted legislation to try to curb this despicable practice. As for now, Johnson County DUI cases in which the person is run through the jail will result in a published mugshot. People arrested in cities like Overland Park, Mission, Prairie Village, etc., will typically be released from the city police department and not taken out to the county jail. The city will take their mugshot but they don’t put them online, so they don’t end up on the internet like the county jail mugshots. Of course, the mugshot and the damage that it can do to a person’s reputation and future prospects is one more reason that it pays to get the best DUI lawyer you can find if you are charged with a DUI in Kansas or anywhere else.  Being able to prove that you beat the case or got it resolved without a conviction may be important to overcoming the problems caused by these sites. Some of the websites claim that they will take the information down if you can show that you were acquitted or had the case dismissed.

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