Attorneys Cast Doubt On Effectiveness Of New Oregon Mugshot Law

Mar 21, 2014

A formerly lucrative trade that posted mugshots on commercial websites was undercut last year. That’s because the Oregon legislature passed a law that allows people to have their mugshots removed from these sites for free if they can demonstrate they were never convicted. Before the legislation, they could end up paying hundreds of dollars. But as Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, it's not clear whether the law is having any impact.

Lawmakers heard stories of people arrested for things like DUI whose charges were later dropped. But their mugshot continued to turn up on internet search engines. And websites that hosted those mugshots charged hundreds of dollars to remove them. The new law requires those websites to take down the photos for free if the person can prove they were never convicted. But Portland criminal defense attorney Neal Weingart says most of those websites are run by overseas companies that rarely respond to any kind of request, much less the threat of a lawsuit. He calls the law toothless.

"There's no real hope of ever collecting from these companies. And so it's just like, I would never take the case," said Weingart.

But on the bright side, search engines such as Google have tweaked their algorithms in the past year to make mugshots far less prominent in search results. And major credit card companies have stopped taking payments for mugshot removal. As a result, some of the websites have gone out of business.

Oregon HB 3467:

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