Bill calls for removal of mug shots when someone's charges are dropped or expunged

Websites could soon be required by law to remove mug shots of people whose charges have been dropped or expunged, only if a bill, S-700, passes in the state legislature.

Lance Cpl. Gregory McZeke, who takes mug shots at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County, explains on a typical day, more than 80 arrestees come through and almost everyday, at least one of them asks the question: are we going to be on the website?

McZeke said his answer is typically yes you are.

"They begin to start freezing up and say oh, I don't want to take my picture. I don't want that," McZeke explained.

The mug shot is posted to the jail's website, which is public record.

TV stations, mug shot magazines and websites can all pull pictures from the jail's site.

While WPDE NewsChannel 15 does not charge to remove a picture if charges are dropped or expunged, some sites do.

If State Senator Paul Thurmond has his way, that practice would be illegal. Thurmond proposed the bill last May.

"Online, I believe that people should have the opportunity to request that information be removed and not have to be held hostage by these companies saying nope, we're not going to remove it without being paid for it. So, this bill would address that," Thurmond explained.

The bill would allow arrestees to request in writing to have those mug shots removed and if website owners do not comply within 30 days, they could face some serious consequences.

"There are other remedies for them such a criminal penalties or civil penalties."

The bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee and Senator Thurmond said any movement on it or amendments to it wouldn't happen until January.