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Attorneys Cast Doubt On Effectiveness Of New Oregon Mugshot Law

A formerly lucrative trade that posted mugshots on commercial websites was undercut last year by the Oregon legislature.

But it's not clear whether the law that took effect on January 1 is having any impact.

Lawmakers heard stories of people arrested for things like DUI whose charges were later dropped. But their mugshot continued to turn up on internet search engines. And websites that hosted those mugshots charged hundreds of dollars to remove them.

The new law requires those websites to take down the photos for free if the person can prove they were never convicted.

But Portland criminal defense attorney Neal Weingart says most of those websites are run by overseas companies that rarely respond to any kind of request, much less the threat of a lawsuit.

He calls the law toothless.

"There's no real hope of ever collecting from these companies," says Weingart. "And so it's just like, I would never take the case."

But on the bright side, search engines such as Google have tweaked their algorithms in the past year to make mugshots far less prominent in search results. And major credit card companies have stopped taking payments for mugshot removal.

As a result, some of the websites have gone out of business.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.