Fighting Back Against Mugshot Websites

On April 1, 2019 Governor Doug Ducey signed HB2191 into law. Rosenstein Law Group is proud to be the author of the soon to be law, and one of the driving forces responsible for its being passed into law. This bill targets what is now defined as mugshot website operators. Mugshot website operators are companies that publish a person’s mugshot or criminal justice record on a publicly available internet website for a commercial purpose. However, legitimate news outlets, such as Arizona Republic, FOX, NBC, ABC and the like are excluded and allowed to use mug shots for legitimate news purposes.

The new law, that will go into effect ninety days after the legislature adjourns, not only prohibits mugshot website operators from publishing individuals mugshots and other criminal justice information for pecuniary gain, but it gives victims of this predatory practice a right to sue them for damages if they violate the new law. Mugshot website operators are liable for damages for each separate violation in an amount of at least:

  • $100 per day during the first thirty days of the violation
  • $200 per day during the subsequent thirty days of the violation, and
  • $500 per day for each day thereafter.

Out of state mugshot website operators will not escape this new law if they are preying on Arizona citizens. The new law has a nexus clause that reaches out of state mugshot website operators who victimize Arizona citizens.

Our very own Steve Scharboneau, told lawmakers of being affected by having his arrest when he was 18 show up on web sites that are in the business of publishing them.

“When I was 17, I was a bit of a knucklehead and did some things I shouldn’t have done,” he said, resulting in his arrest shortly after he turned 18. He provided lawmakers with no details.

What made the issue personal, Scharboneau said, was his 7-year-old nephew putting his name into a search engine.

“And the first thing that pops up on top of Google is my mug shot and criminal justice information,” he said.

“I understand that I did something that I have to pay for, and I did pay for it,” Scharboneau said, saying he now is in his last year of law school.

The first step to having an illegally posted mugshot removed is to contact an experienced attorney. Because this law is new, you want to find an attorney who is experienced with mugshot removal and this law in particular. Why hire us to assist you enforcing your rights against these predatory mugshot website operators? Because we literally wrote this new law.

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