California Prohibits Certain Mugshots from Social Media

According to AB1475, it will prohibit any law enforcement agencies from sharing booking photos of suspects of nonviolent crimes. (Envato Element)

California will be restricting which suspected criminals will be receiving their 15 minutes of shame on social media following a recent assembly bill (AB) on Friday, July 23, 2021.

AB 1475 prohibits any police department or sheriff’s office in the state from sharing the booking photos of suspects of nonviolent crimes on social media platforms.

Law enforcement can share booking photos of a person if they are a fugitive, arrested for certain violent crimes, or an imminent threat to public safety.

In a post on Facebook, Clovis Police Department shared the news of the recent bill, adding that they would continue to post photos of unknown suspects in an attempt to identify them so they can be processed.

Clovis PD PIO Lt. Jim Munro doesn’t see the new bill as a significant loss for Clovis PD. Still, he says that posting mugshots of nonviolent suspects has been of value to the department.

Munro says community members appreciate knowing who Clovis PD is arresting for nonviolent crimes, especially with the rise in mail and catalytic converter thefts.

“We feel that the community likes knowing who’s committing crimes,” Munro said.

While Clovis PD finds posting mugshots helpful, Munro says the department also understands why California enacted the law.

“On the other side, this law was created to make sure that people arrested are not considered guilty until they go through the court process, and we [Clovis PD] understand that,” Munro said.

Munro says Clovis PD will adapt to the new requirements.

“We’ll just adapt and overcome as we do with any new piece of legislation,” Munro said. “We’re flexible, and we’ll just find new ways to do business.”

AB 1475 is a retroactive bill, meaning a person can request that agencies remove previously posted mugshots.

The bill also states that agencies must remove mugshots posted to social media upon request if the suspect of a violent crime were not charged, found not guilty in court, or if their records were sealed or expunged.

Munro said Clovis PD has yet to receive any requests for photos to be removed from its social media platforms.

Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.