Texas Enables Lawsuits Against Mugshot Websites

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

The Texas Legislature has been no fan of civil lawsuits during the past decade. This should say something about a new law which paves the way for fairly straight-forward civil liability of mugshot websites. The new law, which takes effect on September 1, 2013, forces mugshot websites to implement some professional standards and subjects them to lawsuits for monetary damages by those whose information they fail to remove from the internet after receiving notice of an expunction or nondisclosure order.

The particularities of the new “mugshot website law” underscore the importance of hiring the right attorney to handle your expunction or nondisclosure. Under this law, a company is under no obligation to remove your information unless they have “received notice” of the existence of an expunction or nondisclosure. This is typically done by including in the documents filed with the court the name and address of the individual or company who owns the website. This can require some research on the part of the attorney.

Here are some of the “nuts and bolts” of the new statute:

  • Statute applies to mugshot website companies who meet one of two criteria: (1) they charge $150 or more or “other consideration of comparable value,” or (2) charge a fee or other consideration to correct or modify information.
  • Mugshot website companies must now publish complete and accurate criminal records which include the following details: (1) arrest, (2) filing of charges, (3) disposition of the case.
  • Mugshot website companies must provide contact information through which a person may dispute the accuracy of the published information.
  • Mugshot website companies must investigate and if necessary correct disputed information.
  • A person may recover from a mugshot website company $500 a day for publishing that person’s information after being placed on notice of an expunction or nondisclosure.
  • A person who prevails in a lawsuit may recover court costs and attorney’s fees.

*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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