New Florida Law Prohibits Websites from Charging to Remove Criminal Mugshots

Your case may be over and successfully dismissed. But the question now remains: How do I get my mugshot off the internet?

For many years, privately-run websites have been taking financial advantage of those with criminal mugshots. It has become common practice for websites that publish mugshots to charge money in exchange for photo removal. Even if a person’s conviction had been sealed or expunged, these websites refused to remove photographs unless paid to do so.

Criminal defense attorney Maj Vasigh has been leading the charge in fighting the extortion of the mugshot industry racket. In 2013, under the lead of Maj Vasigh, the firm assembled a team of some of the best litigators in Florida to fight back against the mugshot companies.

Maj Vasigh and the legal team filed a class action lawsuit, Bilotta v, Citizens Information Associates, LLC, et al. 13-CA-011264, Hillsborough County Circuit Court. The case went on for almost 3 years of aggressive litigation. During the case, which made media headlines at the time, the legal team aggressively pushed the issue to the attention of Florida legislators. Although the case was ultimately dismissed by the court on free speech grounds, the ground work laid by Mr. Vasigh and his team eventually led to legislation that protects Florida residents.  

Florida Governor Rick Scott recently signed Senate Bill 118 into law in order to prohibit websites from taking such coercive actions. According to Senator Greg Steube, “What we did was pass the bill that if you legally had your record expunged you have to send a letter to the website company; they have [ten days] to comply. If they don’t comply it creates a civil cause of action under the ‘Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act’ and that individual could file a lawsuit.” Businesses that ignore letters of request for removal of a criminal mugshot also face a civil penalty of $1,000 per day.

As Steube explained, without Senate Bill 118 as a law, many people ran the risk of losing great job opportunities. If an applicant chose not to list his criminal record on an employment application due to the record being expunged, but the potential employer searched the Internet and found a mugshot from a privately-run mugshot company, the applicant would most likely be denied the job. Fortunately, this new law offers important protections to people who want to move forward with their lives.

Maj Vasigh, Tampa’s premier criminal justice attorney, began this initiative to minimize the power of privately-run mugshot companies. He used his experience as corporate counsel in the internet marketing world to sue many of the websites in question in an effort to overturn their ability to charge for mugshot removal. The snowball that Vasigh initiated finally resulted in a formal law to create the protections that so many Florida residents deserve.

If your own mugshot is displayed on a website despite your record having been expunged or sealed, use this law to your advantage. If any website does not respond to your letter of request for removal within ten days, reach out to Attorney Vasigh for the legal support you need. Just call (813) 800-1111 to learn more.  

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