Criminal law in the United States was founded upon the idea that someone who is accused of criminal wrongdoing is to be perceived as innocent until proven guilty. Unfortunately, that principle is not always honored in practice.
One of the newer challenges plaguing this vitally important concept is the online leak of unsubstantiated information and/or information devoid of context. When the public accesses this erroneous and/or incomplete information, many individuals are prone to jump to conclusions about a person’s guilt. This can harm a potentially innocent person in a variety of ways.
Leaked mug shots
For example, many individuals who are arrested and charged with drunk driving are required to go through processing at a local law enforcement agency. During this processing, suspects may be fingerprinted and may have their mug shots taken. Although the existence of a mug shot does not explicitly tie a suspect to guilt, many in the community view mug shots (consciously or unconsciously) as implied evidence of guilt.
This is why it is so unacceptable for mug shots to be leaked and posted online. Even when an accused person is innocent, and all accused persons are meant to be presumed innocent until they are proven guilty, a mug shot leak may lead to truly damaging consequences. Simply imagine for a moment that your mug shot has been leaked and your boss, your friends and your family have all run across it?
Responding to leaked mug shots
Thankfully, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to aid you, should your mug shot ever be frustratingly leaked online. Sometimes, mug shots are leaked by public agencies as part of the public record. These mug shots are difficult to remove from online sources, but some laws do prohibit their use on websites that charge a fee or are otherwise engaged in questionable practices.
Thankfully, some sites will remove shots when an attorney requests this courtesy. Although posting mug shots is often considered protected speech, many outlets will either graciously remove photos or will do so once pressed.