Trying to Find a Mugshot?
Are you looking for mugshots or booking photos and wondering where to find them? While booking photos, also known as mugshots, are a common part of the booking process in most jurisdictions, and are generally considered public information, they may or may not be included in the easily accessible public record depending on the jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions include them in their arrest records, or in jail databases that specifically describe recent arrests or all people in the jail; these are usually free mugshots. Other jurisdictions may release them to news agencies, such as newspapers, where they might only be available behind a paywall. Other jurisdictions might not release mugshots in their booking process, but might have them available in other locations, such as in sex offender registries. Background Check Me has access to millions of types of government records and can help you find access to free mugshots/ booking photos.
A mugshot, also known as a booking photo, is the photo taken by police when a person is arrested or booked into a jail facility. The actual timing of a mugshot may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, with some facilities taking booking photos when a person is arrested, and other facilities taking booking photos later in the booking process. Mugshots often have a very distinct appearance. Because they are taken for identification purposes, it is not unusual for the photo to appear in front of a wall that is marked with height lines, which indicate the arrested person’s height. The person may also have a name plate in front of them, though most jurisdictions have moved to digital information and have eliminated the plates showing names and charges as part of the booking photo process.
Depending on when the mugshot is taken, the arrested person may be in their street clothes that they were wearing at the time of the arrest or in a jail-issued uniform. In many jurisdictions, the jail-issued uniforms are a bright orange, so the iconic booking photo shows a person in an orange jumpsuit against a demarcated background.
While people think in terms of a single mugshot or booking photo, in most jails the booking process actually includes multiple photos. These booking photos usually include at least one picture of the person looking directly at the camera, as well as two profile views. If only one of these pictures is available in the public record, it is usually the head-on shot rather than one of the profile photos.
Although some mugshots are only accessible behind paywalls, generally, if the mugshots are made available to the public, you will be able to find free mugshots. Because we have all seen celebrity mugshots or booking photos, you may wonder why law enforcement agencies would make these potentially embarrassing photographs freely available to the public. However, it is important to keep in mind that allowing the public to view mugshots or booking actually has a purpose that goes well beyond the potential humiliation of a criminal suspect.
First, mugshots may capture information about a criminal suspect at the time of the commission of a crime. That is because they capture a person’s condition at the time of an arrest. Does a person’s clothing have blood spatter, does the person have any apparent injuries, does the person appear to be high or intoxicated? All of these are important issues that may come up in a criminal trial, and which are captured in a booking photo.
Second, mugshots may be used to help witnesses identify criminal defendants. Even if there is other evidence connecting a criminal suspect to the crime for which he or she has been arrested, there is always the possibility that a defendant has committed other crimes. Booking photos are entered into the criminal justice system, where they become part of a database of mugshots and booking photos that law enforcement officials can use to access other crimes. They are also often used to show witnesses and victims to see if they can identify a defendant as the perpetrator in other crimes.
Third, community members may want to see mugshots as a way to look out for criminals in their neighborhoods and communities. While mugshots are taken as part of the booking process, the reality is that many criminal defendants are released on bond before their trials. They may return to their neighborhoods and communities. Therefore, some people may find it helpful to look at mugshots of people arrested in their community to keep an eye on people when they are released. While some crimes may simply be personally embarrassing and not really indicate a potential risk to the community, other crimes, such as assaults or crimes against children, may indicate a potential risk to community members. Knowing who to avoid can help people mitigate that risk.
In fact, the fourth reasons that access to free mugshots is so important is for sex offender registries. In some states, sex offender registries may include generic physical descriptions of an offender, but no pictures. Those are not very helpful. Registries that have photos of the offender help people who live or work nearby know what an offender looks like and be aware if the offender is doing things which a registered sex offender should not be doing, like visiting parks or playgrounds.