Bill to stop mug shot abuse passes Senate

The Georgia Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would keep mug shots secret in most cases until a defendant’s case is settled.

House Bill 845, by Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, passed unanimously, 48-0. Because of changes made in Senate committee, the bill now heads back to the House for final approval.

The bill is designed to prevent unscrupulous websites that collect mug shots from police agencies from demanding money from individuals who have been found not guilty before removing the photos from the site.

As originally proposed, no one would be able to get a copy of a mug shot unless the person pictured was found guilty or pleaded guilty to a crime.

After concerns were raised by media outlets and others, the bill was changed to say anyone who wants a copy of the photo must request it in writing and agree to be held criminally liable if the photo ends up on one of the questionable websites.

The General Assembly last year adopted legislation that requires those websites to take a photo down upon request. But, Strickland said, many are refusing to comply or have moved out of state, making it difficult to enforce the law.