How to Find a Mug Shot

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Historically, mugshots have been made available to the public on the internet. All you had to do was look on an aggregating website like Mugshots.com. Now, states agencies are starting to restrict public access to mugshots due to privacy concerns so it's much harder to find what you're looking for.

Whenever a person is arrested, a photograph of his face is taken by the police department to start a file along with his personal information. This dreadful photograph is popularly known as a mug shot. The mug shot provides police and law-enforcement agencies with a physical record of alleged offenders. This helps witnesses or investigators to identify suspects. Sometimes, these mugshots are available to the public on the internet, although some states and agencies are started to ban this practice.

Check Mugshot Websites

Start by finding out the full name of the person whose mug shot you're seeking. Then, visit the Mugshots.com website. This website has the largest database of mugshots on the internet. Type the full name of the person you are looking for in the search bar located on the top right corner of the screen. If the person you are looking for does have a record, the results page will display the mugshot. You can also browse mug shots by category and share information you find with friends.

Search for Sexual Offenders

Go to the Family Watch Dog website if you are looking for a person you suspect of being a sexual offender. On this website you can search for a mugshot by providing a full name or location. Perform your search by typing a name into the “search by name” bar, or perform a search by location by providing the address of the person you are looking for. If the name you enter matches any sex offender in the database, the window will display a mug shot of the person with conviction information. If you perform the search by location a list of sex offender will be displayed on a map layout. The sex offenders will be represented by small squares. Click on those squares and another window will pop up with a mug shot and conviction information.

Check Official Records

Some state and county prisons have an offender locator feature on their website. This pulls up booking details about the inmate including his offense and, sometimes, his mug shot. Freedom of Information Act laws means this information is available to the public; however, the information is normally limited to those currently in custody. Instructions for accessing the site differ by jurisdiction so look out for the tutorial tab to help you navigate the search facility.

Understand that Mug Shot Access if Getting Harder

The law and public opinion is changing when it comes to accessing mugshots, and you may find that your various searches come to nothing. In 2012, the U.S. Marshals Service stopped releasing mugshots to aggregating website like Mugshot.com due to privacy concerns and states such as Florida are considering legislation to prevent mugshots from being posted online. If your searches are returning nothing, the mug shot may have been protected and you would have to file a freedom of information request to see it.

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About the Author

Based in Orange County, Calif., Herman Cruz has been writing since 2007. His articles have been published in various content platforms and he also has written for Internet entrepreneurs who need assistance with writing sales letters and articles for their businesses. Cruz is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts in integrated composition, improvisation and technology at the University of California in Irvine.