Mugshots were invented by French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon in 1888, shown here in a self portrait in the mugshot photography template he created. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
What is a mugshot?
Mugshots are police photographs of a person after arrest for a crime. They are used by law enforcement to create a photographic record of individuals to aid in identification by investigators, criminal victims and the public at large.
Photographing criminals began in the 1840’s, shortly after the invention of photography. French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon standardized the mug shot photography process of criminal identification in 1888 into what is commonplace today.
French criminologist Alphonse Bertillon (left) created the mugshot system of criminal identification that police still use today. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The mugshot standard is a two-part image combining a photograph from the front with a side view. The photographs are typically taken against a simple background in order to not distract from the facial image. Often the arrested person holds a placard with their name, booking ID and other identifying information.
It is believed that the two-part image was originally inspired by Alexander Gardner’s 1865 prisoner portraits of the accused conspirators in the Abraham Lincoln assassination trials.
Beyond their use in law enforcement, mugshots have permeated pop culture and art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art 2016 exhibition “Crimes Stories: Photography and Foul Play” highlighted works inspired by the criminal underworld including art by: Richard Avedon, Larry Clark, Walker Evans, John Gutmann, Andy Warhol, and Weegee.
In recent years, the mugshot publication industry has monetized mugshots online via websites such as TMZ, Mugshots.com, LookWhoGotBusted, Busted Mugshots, EraseMugshots.com and TheSmokingGun.com and by publishing books and stories.
Are mugshots public record and how do they get published?
Arrest mugshots are public record images originally published by the law enforcement agency on their public websites following an arrest.
The mugshot publishing industry scrapes the arrest information and public mugshots to republish them online, in mugshot databases and in tabloids.
One way to reduce the probability of a mugshot being published online is for the arrestee to surrender and be booked in a rural sheriff or police department that does not publish mugshot information online.
How can I find my mugshot?
You can find your mugshot by requesting a copy from the law enforcement agency that booked you and took the photo. You can lookup booking photos published online by searching via Google image search or mugshot databases like: Mugshots.com, TheSmokingGun.com, CheckThem.com and LookWhoGotBusted.com.
Which cities and counties were searched for these mugshots?
Our reviewers searched far and wide to find the most iconic mugshots. Public domain records searches, city and county jail mugshot websites and online databases nation-wide were all searched to find the best mug shot photos of all time.
The largest number of mugshots were reviewed by searching: ADA county arrests in Idaho, Putnam county jail in NY, St Louis STL mugshots, Gainesville mugshots in Florida, Medford mugshots in Oregon, Erj mugshots in West Virginia, Iron county bookings mugshots in Utah, Kentucky KY arrests, Leon County booking report in Florida, Ocala mugshots in Florida, Gage county inmates mugshots, Etowah county mugshots in Alabama, Pierce county jail roster, MCSO mugshots in Arizona, Kitsap county jail roster in WA, Lucas county booking photos in Ohio, Stewart county booking log in Tennessee, Times News mugshots, Alamance County mugshots in NC, Lincoln Journal Star mugshots in Lancaster County NE, Santa Rosa County mugshots, JSO inmate search, Jacksonville mugshots, and Skagit county jail bookings in WA.
Mugshot News & Resources
One of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system is that those accused of a crime are presumed innocent unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt or they plead guilty in a court of law. A mugshot does not imply or prove guilt and is not evidence that an actual crime has been committed. Mugshots shown here are previously published public records. If you would like your mugshot removed from this page, please call (844) 325-1444. There is no charge for removing your mugshot.