A colloquial term for describing a police or booking photograph, a mugshot can be defined as a photographic portrait typically captured when a person is booked or arrested for an alleged crime. However, in the current Internet age, a mugshot is often simply referred to as a picture of a person that comprise a shot of his/her head and shoulders.

What is the relevance of a mugshot?

While it might be interesting to watch glamorous pictures of your favorite celebrities in their moments of glory, what makes for much more sensational information is a news byte with their mugshot published for when they were arrested on account of a criminal activity of some sort. However, it might not be as amusing to end up finding your own mugshot anywhere on the Internet!

Typically, a mugshot can be deemed as a photographic record of a person and is essentially treated as an important public record. In a majority of the US states, the police departments now share updates about recent arrests on their official online websites and also post mugshots of the convicts. However, if you reside in a state where any such records are kept highly confidential by the authorities and not disclosed online, you can always acquire access to your mugshots by filing a request application in accordance with the FOIA or Freedom of Information Act. It is worthwhile to know that under the stipulates of the First Amendment, unauthorized posting or sharing of mugshots is considered illegal.

How is a mugshot used?

As aforementioned, the authorities are not allowed to share or post your mugshots anywhere on the Internet, online or offline, without your permission. However, there is a host of privately owned websites that have devised a strategy of making money by posting mugshots of regular citizens online and then demanding a hefty fee when asked to take them down. Now before you ask, “Is that even legal”, you might want to know that the legislation associated with the third-party use of mugshot is highly unclear, to say the least. The reason is that these mugshots fall under the domain of public records that can be freely accessed by any citizen of the country. In other words, anyone can use your mugshot for online posting legally without having to acquire your permission first. While a majority of the states have their own set of regulations with regard to the use of mugshots, it is typical for the federal mugshots to be freely accessible as well as open to copying for anyone and everyone.