Dear American Citizen /Representative/Senator, There is a growing epidemic in our country that has been addressed everywhere including the senate floor, but not mentioned in any presidential debate or publically addressed by any leaders in the house and needs to be brought to the forefront. It is regarding the shady and corrupt business of copying peoples personal information displayed on the internet in order to bully, harass, humiliate and extort money in exchange for removing information they copied. An example is mugshots in which a number of people are falsely accused and at one point in time any one of us can be in the position to be photographed, but no one should have the right to steal the photos from police records, then repost them on the internet infinitely. The acts of extortion, harassment and false advertisement are all illegal by all government sanctuaries and laws. This form of harassment is a criminal act that is destroying American Citizens the right to be proven innocent while keeping them from gaining employment and hurting their reputation and their families. There is a difference between "freedom of speech" as it pertains to opinions and information, but what about the right to privacy. The Privacy Act was written in 1974 before the cyber era. As a result of internet bullying, there have been suicides, people have lost income, humiliated, and treated like hostages to these criminals who are gaining money for their crime and no one benefits, but them. The Privacy Act needs be revised with "specific verbiage" regarding the new age issues we are all dealing with. The act does indicate there should be a written notice of permission given before displaying information amongst a series of statements that should protect people from this harmful crime. My address, phone number, social security number and real estates transactions are all private, my medical records are private and anything about my personal life should be private and I should have the right to be able to protect it. This is not supposed to be a communist country, but a country in which I should have my personal privacy rights protected. Criminals who have been convicted of a sexual act or murder as felons is different then a misdemeanor dropped in the court of law where no one was harmed. There should be a website people can go to in order to search for felons in their area. It is not for other criminals/average citizens whom are not a part of law enforcement to re-post and harass, they become part of the crime! America is supposed to be the land of the FREE while so many men and women have fought for it, so why are millions of citizens treated like hostages to this internet harassment crime. The bailbondcity.com site has a false address, false phone number and posting false information in order to create business's like Reputation.com in order to extort thousands of dollars in order to remove information they post in the first place and its is information they should never have had access to. They are not the law, they are not helping anyone, but instead harming others for their personal gain and no one can seem to find them or hold them accountable. My case was petty, closed and dropped. I am a business owner, have children in small community private school and am an upstanding citizen while being held hostage to these criminals harassing me and my family. I contacted Google to remove the information and they did so for 24 hours, I believe they inform the criminals and the criminals are able to repost where you can no longer have it removed again. Google should be held responsible once notified of these sites fraudulent websites and harassment taking place so people have the right to refute and/or remove. The police department in which my taxes support should have a more secure system so that people can not take advantage of the personal information they obtain. Mugshots.com, Bailbondcity.com which has now expanded and merged with floridianinmate.org creating an app claiming they are funded by ads when its not true they are funded by creating websites that get paid to remove the information. This needs to be stopped. Search all the complaints with people reaching out for help while being held victims to these vultures. The American People you serve are speaking out! Please listen. God Bless, Laura (leaving unknown last name)
S. 255 – Mug Shot Extortion & Expungement Relief
2016-03-03 By scjustice Posted in Blog, Collateral Consequences, Poverty in South Carolina
On February 16, 2016, Governor Haley signed into law S. 255, a bill sponsored by Senator Paul Thurmond (R). The bill – sometimes referred to as the “Mug Shot Extortion Bill” – is designed to address businesses that make money from publishing mug shots and arrest records. In addition, S. 255 makes important changes to South Carolina’s expungement laws.
Print magazines such as Carolina Mugshots and Mugshot Magazine, along with websites such as www.mugshots.com
show the “mug shot” photos and arrest record details of recently arrested individuals. In addition to selling ads, the businesses behind these publications make money by charging hefty fees to have photos and records removed – in many cases, even if charges are dropped or the arrested person is found not guilty. In the spirit of a justice system founded on “innocent until proven guilty”, S. 255 prohibits these companies from charging individuals not actually convicted of a crime to have their mug shot and arrest record removed.
Mug shot extortion can be big $$$
In order to take advantage of this new law, a person is required to:
Make a request to the company in writing and send the request by certified mail;
Includes their name, date of arrest, and the name of the arresting law enforcement agency;
Send copies of certified documents, such as a disposition sheet, that show the charges have been dismissed;
Include the URL or other information about where such arrest and booking records are located in the company’s publication.
Once the information above is received, the publisher has 30 days to remove the mug shot and arrest record, free of charge. In addition, individuals who plead to a lesser or different charge can submit their information and publishers are required to correct the information, at no cost, within 30 days. To enforce the new protections, the law also provides both criminal and civil penalties for companies that do not comply with the new regulations.
Note: Traditional print and online news providers are exempt under this law.
Expungement and other criminal record relief:
An expungement is a court order that allows for records of certain offenses to be sealed or destroyed. S. 255 expands expungement relief to include individuals with previously ineligible criminal records, such as convictions for wildlife offenses and dismissed driving charges, or charges where a person was not fingerprinted.
Under the new law, convictions of wildlife offenses are now eligible for an expungement under the same criteria as most other offenses. To be eligible, the offense must be a first offense conviction with a penalty of no more than 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $1000. Additionally, driving charges, for the first time, are now eligible for expungements, if the charges were dismissed.
In the past, if a person was charged with a crime and fingerprinted by the authorities, the court would automatically issue an expungement order – at no cost – if the criminal charges were dismissed. However, if the person was not fingerprinted when they were charged – as in the case of most traffic violations – these charges were not eligible for expungement. Now, when the new law takes effect, individuals will be able to apply for an expungement – at no cost – even if they were not fingerprinted when they were charged.
Finally, one of the important features of the new is that it applies retroactively. Applications will be available for expungements covered under the new law on May 16th 2016.