UPDATE New Ohio Law Goes into Effect 1-18-18 regarding Mugshot Extortion Websites

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Earlier this year, I posted the following blog entry regarding Ohio House Bill 6, addressed at ending the practice in Ohio of private mugshot or criminal record websites that require the payment of a fee from an individual in order to have his/her mugshot or criminal records from the site.

Fortunately, this Bill was enacted into law and goes into effect on January 18, 2018.  The new Ohio Revised Code section 2927.22(B) states “No person engaged in publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information (i.e., a booking photograph or the name, address, charges filed, or description of a subject individual who is asserted or implied to have engaged in illegal conduct) through a print or electronic medium shall negligently solicit or accept from a subject individual the payment of a fee or other consideration to remove, correct, modify, or refrain from publishing or otherwise disseminating criminal record information.”  Violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree, and each payment solicited or accepted in violation of this section constitutes a separate violation.

Not only does this create criminal liability for the Mugshot Extortion Websites, but it creates civil liability as well.  According to Section 2927.22(E), “In a civil action brought pursuant to section 2307.60 of the Revised Code for a violation of this section, a subject individual who suffers a loss or harm as a result of the violation may be awarded an amount equal to ten thousand dollars or actual and punitive damages, whichever is greater, and in addition may be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees, court costs, and any other remedies provided by law.  Humiliation or embarrassment shall be adequate to show that the plaintiff has incurred damages.  No physical manifestation of either humiliation or embarrassment is necessary for damages to be shown.”

We are very excited about this new law and the protections it provides for Ohioans who have been hurt by Mugshot Extortion Websites.  Nothing is more frustrating than obtaining a favorable resolution of a criminal matter, getting the case sealed (expunged), and then seeing the client get denied employment or educational opportunities due to criminal record information appearing on a Mugshot Extortion Website found during a Google search of the client.  In other words, even though the State of Ohio, the court, and the prosecutor’s office has determined that the client has paid his/her debt to society, private “entrepreneurs” looking to make a quick buck are willing to broadcast this information, unless he/she pays a large fee to have the information removed.  We are eager to assist those with Ohio criminal record information put on these Mugshot Extortion Websites assert their legal rights and hold these unscrupulous websites accountable.  After January 18, 2018, if one of these websites requires payment of a fee to have your information removed, call us right away, so we can help!