Louisiana aims to limit release of mug shots for nonviolent criminal arrests

By: - June 7, 2022 6:09 pm
Royce Duplessis

Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, sponsored a new law that will limit the release of mug shots in Louisiana. (Greg LaRose/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana will start to limit the release of police mug shots when people are arrested, but not prosecuted, for nonviolent crimes under a new law state lawmakers approved. The statute is scheduled to take effect by the end of the month.

House Bill 729 contains several exceptions to that general prohibition. Under the upcoming statute, law enforcement will still be able to disseminate a nonviolent suspect’s mug shot if the person is a fugitive, deemed an imminent threat or litigation related to the alleged crime is expected. A judge could also order the release of a mug shot.

The legislation’s author, New Orleans Rep. Royce Duplessis, had initially pushed for a much broader prohibition on mug shot releases, but opposition from the state sheriffs association and media organizations narrowed its focus.

In addition to the release of mug shots for violent crime suspects, officers will be able to circulate photos with no restrictions when it comes to arrests for video voyeurism, animal cruelty and several offenses affecting the health and “morals” of children.

All booking photos, regardless of the seriousness of the offense, will also be subject to release once people plead guilty or are convicted of crimes related to their arrests.

Any mug shot released of a person who has not been convicted of a crime will have to include the disclaimer that “all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty” under the new law.

The statute also makes it difficult to sue a law enforcement agency who releases a mug shot when they aren’t allowed to do so. A suspect must prove the dissemination was intentional, not accidental.

The legislation also seeks to outlaw websites that post mug shots and then force people to pay for their removal. It creates an avenue for prosecuting people who run those types of operations.

Six states have enacted similar laws limiting the use of mug shots recently. 

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator and producer of the Louisiana Illuminator podcast. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press. Julie covered state government and politics for NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune for six years. She’s also covered government and politics in Missouri, Virginia and Washington D.C. Julie is a proud D.C. native and Washington Capitals hockey fan. She and her partner, Jed, live in Baton Rouge. She has two stepchildren, Quinn and Steven.