Mugshot websites have been the bane of online reputations for years, documenting the less-glorious moments of people’s lives and making those details available for anyone to see on the Internet. And while many may argue that the convicted deserve the additional e-sentence, it would be difficult to justify posting the mugshots of people who have been acquitted of any wrongdoing.
Wrongfully accused, detained then released, tried but not convicted. These are the types of people who suffer a true injustice when mugshots go public. Well, Georgia’s unique mugshot law offers a remedy for these groups, as well as some others.
HB 150, which can be viewed on Georgia.gov, allows qualified individuals to have their mugshots removed from the Internet for free. After a person’s charges have been dropped or dismissed, he or she can file a formal request to that website to have the images removed free of charge. The business then has 30 days to complete that request before it could face a violation of Georgia’s Fair Business Practices Act.
Who is Protected by HB 150?
Naturally, in order to be eligible for protection under this law, the charge has to take place within Georgia state lines. Below are the other criteria for where HB 150 applies:
Access to his or her case or charges was restricted pursuant to Code Section 35-3-37.
Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was never referred for further prosecution to the proper prosecuting attorney by the arresting law enforcement agency and the offense against such individual was closed by the arresting law enforcement agency.
Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the statute of limitations expired.
Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, his or her case was referred to the prosecuting attorney but was later dismissed.
Prior to indictment, accusation, or other charging instrument, the grand jury returned two no bills.
After indictment or accusation, all charges were dismissed or nolle prossed.
After indictment or accusation, the individual pleaded guilty to or was found guilty of possession of a narcotic drug, marijuana, or stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic drug and was sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Code Section 16-13-2, and the individual successfully completed the terms and conditions of his or her probation; or
The individual was acquitted of all of the charges by a judge or jury.
A Sigh of Relief
The piece of legislation passed in 2013 to the satisfaction of many, including the attorneys who work hard to clear their clients’ names. One Georgia lawyer’s website posted a blog about the new bill, citing hope that this law is a positive step in the effort against for-profit mugshot websites:
“The General Assembly obviously recognized there was a serious problem with websites extorting those who have been booked through the criminal process. Already, the Cobb County Sheriff’s Department has taken steps to remove all photographs from their jail website in accordance with the new law. Hopefully, these steps will put an end to for profit mugshot websites.”
Just a few days after the bill had passed, our blog team at InternetReputation.com acknowledged the relief this law would provide to those who have been acquitted of their crimes.“The law seems to be a step in the right direction, as it allows people who haven't been convicted to clear their names without paying a high fee for that relief.”
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