South Carolina Mugshot Removal: Here’s What to Know
May 7, 2021 Arrest Records | Mugshot Removal | remove mugshot | Uncategorized
South Carolinians finally have some legal protections to prevent falling victim to their mugshots. But these legal protections don’t go far enough.
If you have ever been arrested and booked into custody for a crime, the sheriff’s department probably took a police photograph or mugshot.
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If you’re an arrested person, and the authorities dismissed the charges, or you went to trial and received an acquittal, it may be nearly impossible to remove your mugshot on your own.
Having your mugshot online can keep you from getting a job. Having your mugshot online can keep you from getting a surety bond. Worse, it can keep your employer from getting a surety bond, which means you are soon out of a job.
South Carolina criminal records and online mugshots can ruin romantic relationships and make you the target of vicious gossip.
There ought to be a law
In 2016, the South Carolina legislature decided there should be a law.
S.C. Code Section 17-1:60 says:
“Publication of arrest and booking records, unlawful under certain circumstances, procedures for removal of such information; penalties; civil cause of action.
(A) For purposes of this section, a person or entity who publishes on the person’s or entity’s website or any other publication the arrest and booking records, including booking photographs, of a person who is arrested and booked in South Carolina is deemed to be transacting business in South Carolina.
(B) It is unlawful for a person or entity to obtain, or attempt to obtain, the arrest and booking records, including booking photographs, of a person who is arrested and booked in South Carolina knowing:
(1) the arrest and booking records will be published on a website or any other publication; and
(2) removal or revision of the arrest or booking records requires the payment of a fee or other consideration.
(C) It is unlawful for a person or entity to require the payment of a fee or other consideration to remove, revise, or refrain from posting to a website or any other publication the arrest and booking records, including booking photographs, of a person who is arrested and booked in South Carolina.“
What does this South Carolina law mean?
Before this law passed, websites like mughots.com and tabloid magazines like Carolina Mugshots freely extorted money from innocent (and, for that matter, guilty) people. They charged money to take down a South Carolina mugshot even after the court found in your favor.
Under S.C. Code Section 17-1:60, in theory, this can’t happen anymore. South Carolina law makes online extortion punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a $1000 fine. The law prohibits:
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain arrest and booking records and/or mugshots for the purpose of publishing them online or in print and requiring payment to remove them,
- Requiring anyone to pay money to remove or stop publication of their arrest and booking information or mugshot, or, if you are the employee of any law enforcement agency in South Carolina,
- Providing arrest and booking records and/or mugshots to a person or company that plans to violate this law.
Does this mean I can sue South Carolina mugshot sites?
The South Carolina legislature also gave South Carolinians the right to sue extortion publications and extortion websites for damages. Changes to the South Carolina Tort Claims Act require these websites and publications to take down the photo and information about any accused person without charging a fee, within 30 days, if this request:
- Is in writing and sent by certified mail.
- Includes the accused’s name and date of arrest, and the name of the police or sheriff’s department that made the arrest.
- Contains documentation that the charges were dismissed or expunged, or the accused went to trial and was found not guilty.
- Includes the exact location of the information (URL or print publication) you need to remove.
If you provide all of this information, and you send your request to mugshots.com or Carolina Mugshots, and they don’t take your information down, then you have a right to sue.
There are a lot of places you can go wrong with this process
All we can say about this law is that the legislators’ heart was probably in the right place.
For one thing, the department that arrests you is not necessarily the department that books you. If you don’t get that detail right — and people get upset when they are recalling arrests and make mistakes — then mugshots.com and Carolina Mugshots don’t have to honor your request.
Then you have to provide documents showing officials dismissed your charges. This is a formal notice signed by a judge. You can’t just say the charges went away. You have to show the paperwork.
Or you have to show a jury found you not guilty. You will need a copy of the judge’s written ruling.
Or you need to show you got an order of expungement. This is a court order erasing the record of your arrest. You have to find your arrest records, explain to a judge why they should be erased from the record, get a written order of expungement from that judge, and file the order with the correct clerk’s office to count.
If the people who have your information up online can’t find the order of expungement in some clerk’s office to confirm it, then they don’t have to take your mugshot down.
So, what are the problems with the South Carolina mugshot law?
Then there are a couple of other problems with the current process. That is because South Carolina law:
- Doesn’t help you if you were guilty and you paid your fine or did your time.
- Won’t help you if you got your case reversed on appeal.
- Doesn’t help you if you can’t figure out the expungement process, and you can’t afford a lawyer.
- Can’t make anybody “unsee” your mugshot.
Under South Carolina law, the authorities can charge with a new crime if you threaten a mugshot site. This is true even when they find some petty reason for not taking your mugshot down.
And did we mention that there are 80 other companies that also post mugshots, or that some of them post mugshots without breaking the law?
The simple fact is that South Carolina mugshot removal isn’t easy to do by yourself.
You could try to get enough positive information about yourself online that Google posts your mugshot on the second or third page of search results. That takes a lot of time and some expertise in search engine optimization. Google has changed its search engine algorithms, so they don’t automatically put your mugshot at the top of a search page for your name, but they don’t make any guarantees. They don’t have to.
PayPal payments will stop transfers to mugshots sites for extortion money. But that doesn’t get your mugshot down, either.
Need help with South Carolina mugshot removal
We recommend that you turn to the mugshot removal experts.
As leaders in South Carolina mugshot removal, We can help you remove that embarrassing mugshot or criminal records fast. We have experience in navigating mugshot zones in SC and in other states like Indiana, Georgia North Carolina, Florida. and more, so you’re in the right hands.