Attorney general says booking mugs are public records
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Police booking mug shots are public records, and must be released to the media or the public, Attorney General Scott Pruitt has ruled.
The opinion, written at the request of state Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickashaw, and Sen. Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, also determines that if police booking mugs are kept in electronic formats they must be released that way upon request.
Justice said the request stemmed from a newspaper and the Caddo County Sheriff's Office -- both of which wanted the pictures released, but wanted to make sure they were on solid legal grounds in doing so.
In general, the opinion determines, the release of a mug shot by a law enforcement agency will not constitute an invasion of privacy.
However, an invasion of privacy may occur if the picture places the person in a false light, the opinion says.
"By itself, the act of disclosing a mug shot is not enough to constitute an invasion of privacy even if the person has been acquitted," the opinion says. "This is because a mug shot taken during the booking process does not show that the person has been convicted of a crime but only that the person has been arrested and booked into the jail.
"An invasion of privacy may occur when the disclosure of the mug shot is accompanied by a knowing or reckless false communication that the person in the mug shot has been convicted of a crime."
Oklahoma State Attorney General Scott Pruitt