California Law Restricts Sharing of Mug Shots on Social Media, Requires Removal of Past Posts

MORENO VALLEY, Calif. – A new law in California is placing additional restrictions on how and when law enforcement agencies can share a suspect’s mugshot on social media. The law not only affects future posts but also requires police departments and sheriff’s offices to review and delete old posts. Under the new legislation, departments are prohibited from sharing booking photos on social media, regardless of whether the person is suspected of a violent crime or not, unless they are deemed an “imminent threat” or a fugitive. Furthermore, even in cases where mugshots can be posted, they must be removed within two weeks, with only a few exceptions.

The legislation, known as Assembly Bill 994, was authored by Assemblymember Corey Jackson, who stated that it aims to bring “more equality and justice to every Californian by ensuring that no one is assumed guilty.” The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office acknowledges that they will have to adjust their practices in light of this law. Sergeant Amar Gandhi noted that the task of removing old social media posts will be time-consuming and meticulous.

In addition to the restrictions on sharing mugshots, the law also requires law enforcement agencies to use a suspect’s preferred name and pronouns when sharing the photos on social media. However, they are allowed to include other legal names or aliases if necessary for public safety reasons.

This new legislation represents a significant change in how law enforcement agencies in California can utilize social media to share booking photos with the public. It emphasizes the importance of protecting individuals’ rights and ensuring fair treatment, as well as the recognition of preferred identities. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, among other law enforcement agencies, will have to adapt their social media practices to comply with these new regulations. Going forward, they must carefully consider when and how mugshots are shared, and they must promptly remove them within two weeks, except in limited circumstances.

This change in the law reflects a growing understanding of the potential impact of sharing mugshots on social media, irrespective of an individual’s innocence or guilt. It aims to strike a balance between the public’s right to information and an individual’s right to privacy and fairness. By requiring law enforcement agencies to use preferred names and pronouns, the legislation acknowledges the importance of respecting individuals’ identities and reducing the potential for harm.

In summary, a new law in California has placed stricter limitations on the sharing of mugshots on social media by law enforcement agencies. Police departments and sheriff’s offices must now review and delete old posts, and they can only share booking photos if the individual is an “imminent threat” or a fugitive. While the legislation seeks to ensure equality and justice for all Californians, it also recognizes the need to protect individuals’ rights and identities. These changes will require law enforcement agencies to adjust their social media practices and be more mindful of the impact of their actions.