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New law offers hope to those whose mug shots are published online

There is no question that the majority of internet users are more than familiar with certain types of banner ads, meaning those digital advertisements lining the sides and bottoms of the webpages they happen to be reading. While many of these banner ads are for legitimate products and services, many others are for content that could best be described as salacious.

For example, many seek to draw readers to websites run by companies featuring mug shots, encouraging them to "learn the truth." While some might view this as harmless fun, it can actually prove incredibly damaging, particularly for those who were arrested but ultimately acquitted. 

That's because as a simple online search of their name by a prospective employer or landlord could turn up this detrimental relic from their past that no longer has any bearing on the present.

Even worse, many times these companies will only remove mug shots for a fee, making it much like extortion.

Fortunately, those who find themselves in this uncomfortable position now have options thanks to a new law signed by Governor Rick Scott earlier this month.

What does the law do?  

The law allows those individuals who were not convicted of the underlying offense for which a mug shot was originally taken to send a written request to a company asking that they take it down. It also prohibits these companies from requesting payment for removal.

It doesn't apply, however, to those companies that do not accept fees to remove mug shots.

What if the company refuses to comply with the request?

In the event the company fails to take down a mug shot with 10 days of receiving the written request, it will start being assessed a daily fine of $1,000. Furthermore, the law provides affected parties will the ability to pursue the matter in civil court.

What about media outlets?

The law makes no mention of media outlets, which is curious given that so many of them publish mug shots with news stories. It's for this reason that many experts have expressed frustration with the measure.

It will be interesting to see what happens ...

If you've been charged with any manner of criminal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights, your reputation and your future.

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