Arizona has joined the fight against predatory mugshot companies. This blog post takes a deeper look into the Arizona mugshot law, how to get your mugshot removed or suppressed and how to report mugshot companies to Google that violate Google’s Ad sense terms and conditions. This last point is important and can alone cripple many of these mugshot website operators.
On August 1, 2019 Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed House Bill 2191 into law, which targeted the commercial mugshot industry. This bill became Arizona Revised Statute Annotated § 44-7901 and 44-7902. Section 44-7902(B) expressly states that:
“A mugshot website operator may not use criminal justice records or the names, addresses, telephone numbers and other information contained in criminal justice records for the purpose of soliciting business for pecuniary gain, including requiring the payment of a fee or other valuable consideration in exchange for removing or revising criminal justice records that have been published on a website or other publication.”
Who is a mugshot website operator? The law defines a mugshot website operator is “a person that publishes a criminal justice record on a publicly available internet website for a commercial purpose.” A.R.S. § 44-7901.
What does the Arizona mugshot law actually do? The Arizona mugshot law provides two types of relief. (1) The law prohibits mugshot website operators from publishing individual’s criminal justice records for the purposes of pecuniary gain. This is a prohibition on the act of mugshot website operators, so the law prohibits these practices. (2) The law provides a specified dollar amount of which a person is entitled to recovering should they seek monetary damages.
How much money am I entitled to if my mugshot has been exploited by a mugshot website operator? Section 44-7902(D) provides that:
“A person that violates subsection b of this section is liable for damages for each separate violation in an amount of at least:1. $100 per day during the first thirty days of the violation.2. $200 per day during the subsequent thirty days of the violation.3. $500 per day for each day thereafter.”
What if the mugshot website operators are not located within the state of Arizona? Arizona’s mugshot law also provides that “A mugshot website operator that publishes a subject individual’s criminal justice record for a commercial purpose on a publicly accessible website is deemed to be transacting business in this state.” A.R.S. 44-7902(A). This means that by taking advantage of Arizona’s laws and by targeting the Arizona population, mugshot website operators have availed themselves to jurisdiction in the Arizona courts. Basically, this means that mugshot website operators cannot target Arizona citizens by taking advantage of Arizona laws and exploit all of these things to make money and then claim they have no part of Arizona.
How do you know all of this? I wrote the law. After extensive research, I drafted this law and presented the idea and research to attorney Craig Rosenstein of the Rosenstein Law Group. Together, we brought the idea to Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and developed a strategy to push the bill through the Arizona legislature. Unsurprisingly, every lawmaker I spoke to in the Arizona legislature supported the idea. Not one person throughout my efforts to lobby for this law supported the predatory practices of mugshot website operators. The Arizona mugshot law passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and the Senate and was endorsed by the Arizona Governor as mentioned above. I have further detailed these efforts in an opinion piece published by the Arizona Capitol Times.
What can I do if I live in Arizona and a mugshot website operator has posted my criminal justice information online in violation of the Arizona mugshot law? There are several options available to you, including sending a demand letter to the content provider, initiating a lawsuit and taking control of your online presence. I have created a short blog on these three options and will elaborate on each of them in future blog posts if there is further interest. Our office has pursued civil suits against mugshot website operators, and we have also had criminal justice records removed by simply sending a demand letter. We have also been successful in preserving and maintaining individual personal online reputations. Taking control of your online presence is a good idea whether or not you will be initiating a civil suit against these companies.
Aren’t these companies violating any Google policies? Yes, many of the mugshot website operators operate outside of Google’s guidelines and can be reported. If Google investigates and finds violations, they may shit the sites down. For instance, if the websites rely on Google Ads, they must comply with Ad sense guidelines. Some of the reasons a mugshot website may be in violation of these guidelines is because:
(1) they deceptively use ads to trick users into thinking they are searching the mugshot website by clicking on the ad,
(2) they use the mugshots to harass people who have contacted them or litigated against them,
(3) they are in violation of state law,
(4) it is difficult to distinguish the ads from the content on the site,
(5) the site has links that take you directly to a Google search results page, and;
(6) the website does not generally adhere to the Webmaster Quality Guidelines.
Without the monetization from ads, they cannot survive. If you believe they are in violation, you can report them now at:
It is a slow fight against mugshot website operators, but we are on the front lines. If your criminal justice information has been exploited illegally by mugshot website operators and you have questions about your specific situation, you can contact me at our office (480) 498-8998 or through the Contact Me page on this site.