How To View Local Mug Shots

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

People might need to look up mug shots for many reasons. Some are looking for information on acquaintances who were arrested. Others are looking for their own mug shot. Still others may be browsing out of curiosity. Whatever their reason, finding local mug shots is easy. Several resources can be consulted, and the information is usually freely available.

Mug Shots From Law Enforcement Agencies

In some jurisdictions, mug shots are public record. Accordingly, it’s very easy to browse through the pictures. Start with the law enforcement agency’s website. These are easy to find by putting a county name and the words “sheriff’s department” into an online search engine. City police departments and highway patrol agencies may also have accessible websites. If mug shots are available, they should be easy to find by clicking on a link labeled “booking blotter” or something similar. This is probably the easiest search method available, particularly if you know which agency arrested the individual whose mug shot you’re seeking. If you’re not able to locate the particular mug shot you’re seeking, consider calling the law enforcement agency. They may allow you to come down to the station to search through their books of mug shots.

Mug Shots from Independent, Third Party Websites

Some online companies provide people with an opportunity to search for a mug shot through their website. This is often a fee based service, but it may make sense to try this if you’re not able to locate a mug shot through a law enforcement agency. If the company does not already have the mug shot you’re looking for in their database, they may be able to request it from the proper authorities. This may involve an additional fee.

Visiting a Corrections Center

Some jurisdictions do not post mug shots online and instead require people to visit in person. County or city jails may be able to accommodate your request to review mug shots. It’s generally advisable to call first to make certain that coming in person to ask to view mug shots is permissible.

Mug Shots from Media Outlets

Where mug shots are considered public records, it is not unusual for various media outlets to publicize them. Check websites for local networks and newspapers, as they usually post recent mug shots on their page for local news. Like using a law enforcement website, this is an easy method for obtaining mug shots.

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