After her DUI charge was dropped, Julie Cantu thought her nightmare was over. Then, she went on a date.
Over dinner, Cantu’s would-be-suitor was asking questions anyone asks on a first date. Then he asked about her criminal record. Caught off-guard by the question, she thought about the dropped charge. Her blood alcohol had been 0.021, well below the legal limit of 0.08, and she had no other contact with the law. How did her date know?
After getting home, the Florida resident and retired nurse went online and searched her name. Her mugshot, eyes puffy and red from crying, was displayed prominently between results for her LinkedIn and Facebook profiles.
Making matters worse, she did not find her photo on a newspaper or crime blotter website that reports local crime. Cantu found herself in the mugshot racket. Her photo was on Arrestmugshot.com, Mugshots.com and Tampacriminal.com—all of which demanded a fee to take down these photos (two of these sites, arrestmugshot.com and tampacriminal.com, are no longer active, with the latter now redirecting to a lawyer’s website).
After paying $175 to one site to take down the photo, she found her mugshot pop up on another, which asked for even more money. An exploitative game of online whack-a-mole had begun.
Cantu says she worried that the photo was “going to be there the rest of my life.”
Lawsuits Seek to Bring Down Mugshot Profiteering [courthousenews.com 8/11/17]