Missouri Law Targets Mugshots on Private Websites

By Lindsay Clein

Published 07/09 2014 08:38PM

Updated 07/09 2014 08:59PM

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Paying to remove a mugshot from a private website will soon be illegal in Missouri.

Legislation signed by Governor Jay Nixon makes it a misdemeanor to publish police booking photos on websites and ask for money to take the photos down.

An average of 19,000 inmates are annually booked into the Greene County Jail alone. Whether they're found guilty or proven innocent, Governor Nixon wants to keep these people's mugshots from popping up on other websites and staying up-- potentially causing harm to their reputations and their wallets.

"I think it's a good thing," says Ashley Brown.

Brown knows a thing or two about mugshot websites. In fact, she's currently on one.

"I had an assault charge and was doing a weekend in jail," she says.

There are websites all across the nation that take people's booking photos from jail websites and post them on their own private websites, then charge to take the mugshots down.

"I don't think you should be able to post information like that, especially if it's just somebody not even involved in the law," says Brown. "They aren't the police and they shouldn't be able to do that."

"There are some real cynical scam artists out there that were literally trying to force people to pay them to take their pictures down," says Missouri Democratic Governor Jay Nixon. "And threaten their reputations as well as their pocketbook."

The new crime will be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

"I think this is another tool that will help law enforcement make sure those folks don't profit off that sort of stuff and put us in a better path toward preventing what could have been a growing industry of scam artists in our state," says Nixon.

"I think they should've done it a long time ago," says Brown.

The new law also says people who suffer humiliation or embarrassment by mugshot websites can sue for actual and punitive damages.

"There are some people really mad that they're posting their pictures," says Brown. "So I could see people suing. I wouldn't personally."

An attempt at showing off criminals' mugshots and charging for the picture to be taken down will now be a crime itself.

"They can see their own mugshot on mugshots," says Brown.

KOLR10 reached out to a mugshot website and a few mugshot removal sites to try to find out what kind of impact this will have and did not hear back.

The new law will take effect on August 28.

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