How Can I Get My Mugshot Removed from the Internet?


You’ve gone through the anxiety, the headache, and the mental and monetary costs of facing a criminal charge. You got the greatest news you could have hoped for; your charges were dismissed! You even went through the trouble of having your dismissals expunged by the courts. You thought your long ordeal was over… but then you Googled yourself and saw that your mugshot was still online. A haunting reminder of what happened, and an unfair obstacle to future employment or relationships.

So, you try to ask the company nicely if they will remove the offending picture of you. It’s really not your best look. If you’re lucky, they will comply with your request within a reasonable time period. But it is even more common that there will be no efficient means of contacting them or you will receive no response to your query. Sometimes the company will ask you to pay them a “processing fee” of $200-$500 to take down the photo! If you find yourself in this position, you have come to the right place.

What Are My First Steps Once I Find My Mugshot Online?

Once your expungement has been filed, a certified copy of that order will be sent to state agencies, including the Administrative Office of the Court. (AOC) The AOC must notify any webpage business with which it has a licensing agreement for data from criminal record database to delete your arrest record and mugshot. That would cover most entities that would be displaying your mugshot online. The tricky part comes when there are some agencies that refuse to take down the mugshot.

First, you’ll need to find a means of contacting the business hosting the page. Sometimes, the business will have a direct email address you can contact. Other times, they might have some sort of online ticket process by which you can submit a complaint and upload accompanying paperwork. But occasionally there might be no real means of communicating with the webmaster for the page.

There are sites that ostensibly can grant you the personal information of the hosts of the webpage, such as ICANN (weblink to But clever hosts either hire a domain protection service or simply protect their physical address and phone number. You may need to hire an attorney or private investigator to track them down, which can be costly. If there are no means of reaching the owner of the page, that might be your only option.

How Should I Approach the Website with My Mugshot?

Once you have reached the business owner, you can politely ask that they take down the mugshot. Explain to them that your charges were expunged and provide them with a copy of the actual expungement that was filed by the court and signed by the judge. Make sure to attach it to the email or provide a copy of the court document somehow. If they are considerate, this is likely all the proof that they would need to remove your mugshot from their page. However, in many cases you are likely to encounter additional resistance.

Sometimes webmasters will take down a mugshot merely upon proof of a valid dismissal. You can get such a document by going to the clerk of courts in the county where the case was dismissed. Ask the clerk to provide you with a true copy of the dismissal. If the case is a felony, you can even ask the clerk to pull the file to get a copy of the full dismissal form. (form AOC-CR-307B) Then you can scan and provide that copy electronically to the website. There are times where proof of just a dismissal will not suffice.

What Should I Do if They Refuse to Take My Mugshot Down?

The first thing that you should do is contact the attorney who handled your case. But if they cannot help you, you’ll need to do one of three things: pay the “processing fee,” pay another attorney to help you fight them, or try to do it yourself. Most people take the easy way out and pay the fee. While these companies supposedly have a noble goal of spreading information about those dangerous to the community, these fees are far from noble. You can have an attorney contact them instead, which we have done at Jetton and Meredith on behalf of many of our clients. The attorney will approach the company on your behalf to get them to take down the mugshot. This method will prove successful, but you must compensate the lawyer for their time.

The final approach would be to try to get them to take the mugshot down yourself. To do that, you’ll likely need to file a request with AOC for a Certificate of Verification regarding your expungement. This requires you to fill out a form that includes an affidavit verifying under penalty of perjury that you are the person who is named in the order expunging your charges. That form will need to be notarized or signed by a court official and you will need to include a copy of your petition plus a copy of the offending web material. Once your application for the Certificate of Verification is processed, the AOC can send the certificate to you by mail or directly to your email. If you provide the Certificate of Verification to the website, they should remove your material.

Can I Sue a Website for Failing to Remove My Mugshot Online?

Yes! You can sue a website who refuses to remove your arrest file online after they have been notified to delete the material in question. For this step however, you will absolutely need to contact an attorney. These businesses will not fold easily and they will claim to have an army of lawyers at their beck and call. Pursuant to NCGS 15A-152, any website that holds itself out as “being in the business of compiling and disseminating criminal history record information for compensation” shall destroy any information in their possession if they received a notice to delete the record in question.

If that business has a license with a state agency it will delete the record pursuant to the terms of that agency. However, if no licensing agreement exists, the website must delete the records within 10 business days of receiving notice to delete the mugshot. Any website that spreads information in violation of NCGS 15A-152 is civilly liable for damages suffered by the person whose mugshot they display online. That person can also recover court costs and attorney fees.

Websites are also potentially liable under federal law as well, under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act. Federal law suits are extremely time consuming and difficult, and require a real showing of damages to be worthwhile pursuing. However mug shot companies have been sued in federal court successfully under the provisions of the FCRA.

But unfortunately, filing suit is not that simple. You will need to hire a lawyer like the attorneys at Jetton and Meredith to prepare that lawsuit. Once the suit is filed, you’ll need to track down the website provider to serve them, which can be very difficult to do. Finally, the website will likely try to argue to the court that your suit should be dismissed for a variety of reasons, and you’ll need a lawyer who can fight to clear all that smoke. One who can convince the judge that charging money for innocent people to move on with their lives is not a public service.

Are you struggling with removing your picture from a mugshot website? Call us at Jetton & Meredith today at (704) 931-5535 to get more information on how we can help you.