Let’s be honest: mugshots are fascinating.
Mugshots are one of the most highly searched public records.
Perhaps mugshots are so interesting because we can see the results of everyday people making poor choices. However, there are other very important reasons why a mugshot lookup might be a good idea.
Why run a mugshot lookup?
Mugshots are searched for many reasons. These include:
- View your own criminal history
- See what other people can find online
- Know what an employer may find
- Protect your family and children from criminals
- Check out the new neighbors or friends.
How do mugshot websites work?
All criminal matters typically become public record. This means criminal records, court records, and even mugshots are released to the public.
However, some states and local governments have different laws on mugshots. For example, if criminal charges are not filed then a mugshot may not be available. In addition, if the criminal record is sealed or the mugshot is of a minor, you probably won’t find it anywhere.
7 Ways to do a Mugshot Lookup Online.
#1 – State Department of Corrections website
Your State probably has a Department of Corrections website. These websites show who was arrested and detained. They sometimes contain mugshot pictures.
If that doesn’t work, try the State Department’s inmate locator. The inmate locator finds an inmate’s location, date of birth, date of incarcerated, and expected release date.
Note: This method is free, but it doesn’t always work. Many States do not provide mugshot pictures.
#2 – Search Sex Offender Registries
Most sex offender registries publish mugshots.
You can search for information with limited information, such as only a name or location.
This method only works for sex crimes.
Learn more on how sex offender registries work.
#3 – Try “Mugshots Online” Websites
There are many “mugshots online” websites that claim to find mugshots. These websites take mugshot pictures from local sources and publish them.
A few sites are free, such as Mugshots.com. All you need is a name (although knowing where the arrest or incarceration took place can make the search process much easier).
In addition to the mugshot, users will also find details such as date of arrest, height and weight of the individual, the crime and where the booking took place.
Update May 18, 2018: Many of these websites get sued for extorting people for money. The owners refuse to remove your mugshot unless you pay for a removal. Please do not support this practice. Once your mugshot is published online, it’s very difficult to remove.
#4 – Try Smartphone or Tablet Apps
Several mugshot apps are available for Android or iOS. As always, not all apps are created equal.
One such app is called VINEMobile. Intended for victims of crimes, VINEMobile allows users to look up jailed individuals and get notified in the change of custody status of certain offenders.
Beware of mobile charges!
#5 – Search Public Records Websites
Public Records Searches are becoming more and more popular to find information. These sites also provide comprehensive information on people. For example, they can find other arrests, other activity, addresses, location, phones, and more.
One advantage of public records sites is that you can search for individuals with just a name. You don’t need to have general geographical information, such as the city or state where the person might have been arrested or placed in prison.
Learn more about public records.
#6 – Use Internet Search Engines
Internet search engines like Google sometimes have mugshots. Simply type a person’s name along with the word “mugshot” to view the results. For example, you can search for “John Smith Mugshots” or “John Smith Mugshots in San Diego, CA”
It doesn’t always work, but it’s easy and free.
#7 – Contact Local Police and Sheriff Departments
Some local law enforcement agencies will have mugshots available online. In order to use this, you will need to know exactly where the person was booked.
You can typically call or contact the police or sheriff department for more information.
How to find your own mugshot
Your mugshot may not be available publicly or online. If you can’t find your mugshots online then contact your local law enforcement or government agency that booked you.
Note: In most cases you won’t be able to access anyone else’s criminal records without a very good reason. However, you can request access to your own.
How to remove your mugshot online
Unfortunately, removing your mugshots from the internet is very difficult because the government categorizes “Mugshots” as public records. Therefore, it’s the right of people to see your criminal records. To learn more about how this works, check out our post understanding public records.
However, here’s the best way to remove a mugshot:
- Request removal from the official source (government office, local police department, or State Corrections website).This isn’t easy to do and will probably require the services of an attorney. One thing to remember is that the more serious the crime, the more difficult it will be to expunge or seal the criminal records.
- Request removal or opt out from online mugshots or public records websites. Honest websites will typically have an opt out process that is free.
- Some ‘reputation building‘ companies promise to remove embarrassing information from the Internet for a significant fee, often in the hundreds of dollars. Many of them work by removing a mugshot from the Internet search engine index.
Beware! Some websites charge fees! According to Wired, there is an entire industry comprised of digging up mugshots from public records databases and making them searchable through an online search engine. You may be charged a fee to remove your mugshot. Fortunately, the owners of these websites are now being questioned in court.