Could Florida's Mugshot Industry Be Coming to an End?

Categories: The Judge

flattenedheadtampa.jpg
What we're all thinking: Will gems like these disappear from the Web if one Tampa judge has his way?
In Florida, it's practically impossible to escape one's poor decision thanks to dozens of websites that exist to repost mugshots and charge offenders to take them down. The effect of this cottage industry on vulnerable offenders is well-documented, and it can cost thousands of dollars to clear one's Google search results after being charged with a crime.

In 2011, Wired broke the story on how Florida's insanely liberal public records coupled with some algorithm profiteers were making a killing through humiliation tactics. The magazine piece focused on florida.arrests.org, which is run by a ex-con. Last October, the New York Times wrote about how mugshot sites tarnish peoples' lives long after they've been cleared of -- or served time for -- the crimes they've been charged with. (Full disclosure: Both New Times papers have re-posted mugshots in regular blog features.)

But all that might be about to change. Late last year, the New York Times reported that Google, Mastercard, Discover, American Express and PayPal wished to sever their ties with the industry.

The latest blow came last Friday, when a Tampa judge found that the republishing of mugshots for profit is in violation of a state statute. Arthur D'Antonio, who is behind the websites justmugshots.com and mugshots.mobi, must now face charges of privacy invasion and unfair trade. The statute in question reads: "No person shall publish, print, display, or otherwise publicly use for purposes of trade or for any commercial or advertising purpose the name, portrait, photograph, or other likeness of any natural person without the express written or oral consent to such use....

The suit against D'Antonio was filed by Shannon Bilotta, a Pinellas county woman who was charged with battery in June. The 43-year-old Largo woman's mug is still visible on the site. Justmugshots also features links to unpublishing services and other advertisements, a federal judge noted. The sites owner, D'Antonio, has 14 days to respond to the complaint against him.

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.

My Voice Nation Help
46 comments
Floydian4ever
Floydian4ever

The industry won't end as long as the websites creators continue to benefit in some way. If they continue to be paid from the ad revenue generated by clicking to and in and around their sites the webmaster can simply remove the "pay-me-to-remove-this-mugshot" caveat and then the website is performing a public service by allowing the public to view what's already public information anyway. FDLE will sell you an entire criminal history with a picture but the social blurred out and you don't see anyone petitioning them to cease and desist. The State of Florida Sexual Predator/Offender has mugshots of these folks up for the world to see without accepting any money and the affected can't have it changed except with a court order. Why? Because this is public record protected by the Freedom of Information Act. If you're worried about folks seeing your crimes pay the attorney extra to have your case sealed up to and including the mugshot.

Andrew Creech
Andrew Creech

Its about time. Mugshot Friday is the modern gallows. Its public record so it should be available...just not publicized by organizations like yours to generate views. We barely get details...just "look at these poor souls who are in deep shit...laugh and mock them with us.". Not cool IMHO.

Joey Waves
Joey Waves

where's your head at...wher's yr head at.

Marton Ruiz
Marton Ruiz

hey thATS HAFIE MA NIGGA WHAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stuart Gonzales
Stuart Gonzales

Most oif these guys that own these web sites allegedly are felons themselves. Nothing but P.O.S. people

Omar Becerra
Omar Becerra

i agree with the State, is not the government that publish this mug shots or republish, there is one mine out there, this assholes want money for me to remove it, why? I'm proud of my mug shot, they are not getting my money, it should be illegal

Jorge B. de Cárdenas
Jorge B. de Cárdenas

why don't you run a mugshot fridays for corrupt white collar criminals in the financial industry and the politicians in their pockets, oh because they don't get arrested

Alex Emm
Alex Emm

Finally! One person gets incorrectly arrested because of a mixup in the mail, and their mugshot ends up on these F@#$%^ sits ruining their reputation! Then the sites CHARGE you money to take them down, while another new site pops up starting the whole cycle again! F@#$ those bastards! I say we join and class action sue them on top of this!

Jon Achaval
Jon Achaval

It's about time. Although I read and generally laude your papers breaking and interestingly written stories, I found mugshot Fridays in poor taste, not at all amusing and quite contrary to the journalistic standard implied in NT's mission. Yes, your humor is enjoyably witty and tongue-in-cheek, but making fun of people's misfortune for profit (advertising is profitable) is just lazy and beneath you.

Andrew Foster
Andrew Foster

Ivan Osorio Get all your copies of 'The Slammer' while you still can.

hillbillyshackpear
hillbillyshackpear

"What we're all thinking: Will gems like these disappear from the Web if one Tampa judge has his way?"

Not at all what I was thinking.  I really hope there aren't too many people like you out there, who devalue another human being to being nothing more than something weird/funny to look at on the internet.  Some of the long form pieces the New Times publishes written by  actual journalists can be pretty great.  Its too bad the same publication feels like they have to publish absolute garbage like this and mugshot fridays.  I guess you have to cast a wide net to make a buck in the newspaper game these days.


Alain D. Mozas
Alain D. Mozas

Public records.... should be for legitimate public use, not commercialized into what is basically blackmail. I fully support the Judge's decision and hope this becomes a larger issue, it's about time.

Jen Die
Jen Die

If you are arrested and they took a mug shot, it's public records...unless tax payers decides to no longer fund police departments

Alejandro Rendon
Alejandro Rendon

really? why is everyone defending criminals? the state of Florida needs all the income it can get i say take a step forward and put violent offenders into forced labor.

John John Pheno Menon
John John Pheno Menon

I got arrested, my charges got dropped and they wanted $250 to remove my mugshot. I told them to fuck off, then i used the mugshot as my Facebook profile pic. the mugshot still remains, i embrace it!

Najsoj Osnola
Najsoj Osnola

its about damn time....that bs is an invasion of privacy

Frank Castle
Frank Castle

Oh this is awesome, it was way over due, ive always hated mugshot fridays from new times. It was gonna happen sooner or later, journalism isnt about showing people when they are in legal problems, that suppose to be private, its like your making fun of them, the photo is for the government record but not for the publics amusement...hey new times instead of mugshot fri why dont you do, "new places in miami to eat" fridays or something with music and culture, something with substance.

Jorge B. de Cárdenas
Jorge B. de Cárdenas

considering the unequal application of the laws for drug use in this country and its crippling effect on minorities and the underprivileged, maybe the new times can finally stop kicking poor people when they are down.

Mike Rodriguez
Mike Rodriguez

Forget the mugshot, what happened to that guy's head??!!

Chris Schaaff
Chris Schaaff

That sucks. I like looking at the misfortunes of others

Nick Mencia
Nick Mencia

Good! I think its appalling and sad and these feelings exponentially grow when I see the kind of joy and amusement it arouses with these South Florida holograms on my internet. At least you got one more article out of it though!! Happy Weekend non-fucked up people!

Chris Anthony
Chris Anthony

I thought it was extortion for what they want on a friend of mine, they get it for free and charge you to remove it, and most are for minor infraction!!!

Sergio Alejandro
Sergio Alejandro

I'm actually looking forward to this practice ending. Such a deceitfully calloused way to profit off of people's humiliations.

Sergio Alejandro
Sergio Alejandro

@Jason No, because nothing MNT does on the website is for-profit.

Seth Platt
Seth Platt

Hooray! Lowest form of journalism there is, if you can even call it that. Now get out there and do some real reporting.

Jordan Alfonso
Jordan Alfonso

Should be put to an end, it's f'ed up to make money on peoples misfortune.

Floydian4ever
Floydian4ever

State of Florida publishes mugshots of every sexual predator and offender and requires a court order to remove it, which would mean paying an attorney to represent you so who's not getting your money?

Only those affected want this to be illegal so how about using life experience to have people control themselves in the future and simply not get arrested in the first place?

Floydian4ever
Floydian4ever

Excuse me but the Freedom of Information Act IS NOT controlled by local police it is a FEDERAL LAW. State of Florida publishes mugshots of sex predators and offenders along with their home addresses- why? Because when convicted of a crime your rights have to be restored to you so spend the money to have the record expunged or better yet DONT GET ARRESTED

Now Trending

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...