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How Does Police Collect Mugshots?

Collecting mugshots is an important part of the legal process in which an individual who is suspected of committing a crime is taken into custody. A mugshot is an informal name of the photo taken by the police of a suspect in a crime. After an individual is arrested in relation to a crime, the police will take a photo of him/ her and save it is online and offline files. The mugshot is a portrait that is taken from the waist up, usually from the front and both sides.

Mugshots were once taken as a means of keeping records of people who were suspected of committing a crime, and it was law enforcement agencies that used this photographic evidence. However, this has changed over the past several decades; nowadays, the public also has access to mugshots as part of the Freedom of Information Act and as part of public safety policies in each state. The first mugshots were takes as far back as the 1840s – not long after the invention of photography. The process of taking and collecting mugshots was standardized by French police officer Alphonse Bertillon in 1888.

Since then, mugshots have become an inseparable part of the legal process, and they are taken immediately after booking. Once mugshots are taken by the police, they are placed in a "Mug Book". The mug book is then used to inquire eyewitnesses of a crime if they identify the person who has committed a crime. The legal process then continues to trial and a final ruling where a judge/jury will determine what will be the sentence of the person who is suspected of committing a crime. It has long been believed that mugshots can cause prejudice among jury members, which is why judges and prosecutors are required to take the means to avoid using mugshots during trials.

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How are Police Arrest Records Maintained?

Police arrest records, or criminal records, detail an individual's criminal history. Each country in the world has its methods of collecting and maintaining police criminal records, and the US is no different. The US legal system works on federal as well as state levels, so criminal records are collected and maintained on local, state, and federal levels.

Once an individual is taken into custody, he/she will be read their rights before the arrest process begins. Once in custody, the arrestee will be asked questions about their identity and the crime they supposedly committed. During this procedure, the police will ask the arrestee as to their full name, aliases, place of residence, contact information, previous crimes, and more.

The procedure also includes taking fingerprints and mugshots of the arrestee. Once all the information is collected by the police, it will be entered into online and offline records that are shared among law enforcement agencies, from the local to the state level all the way to the federal level.

The information in police records is also available to the general public unless the record is of a juvenile offender or is sealed. In some cases, a police record will be expunged after a certain amount of time. If not, it will be available to the public who can view it as part of the Freedom of Information Act. Criminal records contain valuable information about individuals, such as their real name and aliases, the crimes they committed, their mugshots, and more. If the case proceeds to trial, the individual will have to stand before a judge or a jury who will determine their sentence.

During the trial, the information in the police record, including the evidence gathered by law enforcement agencies, will be presented to the judge/jury who will use it to determine whether the individual is innocent or guilty.


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