assembllyCalifornia legislators have introduced legislation that will bar “extortion” websites from posting mug shots of individuals arrested in crimes and then demanding payment to have the photographs removed.

The new bill, introduced by state senator Jerry Hill, will make it unlawful to solicit or accept payment to remove, correct, or modify mugshots.  It would impose fines of $1,000 for violations or require them to pay damages and attorneys’ fees to the victims.  It was unanimously passed by the California senate on April 28, 2013.

The California bill came to fruition by circumstances involving a local film producer, Bob DeBrino, who was arrested but never charged or convicted for driving under the influence of prescription surgery for an upcoming surgery.   DeBrino’s mug shot was posted on the internet forcing him to lose business.  The only way to have it removed was to pay thousands of dollars to the website.

In enacting the measure, California has followed several other states who have made it illegal to charge for removing mugshots from websites, including  Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, Texas and Utah.

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