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Mug shots typically illustrate one aspect of the criminal proceedings. Booking is a procedure at a jail or police station following an arrest in which information about the arrest (as the time, the name of the arrested person, and the crime for which the arrest was made) is entered in the police register. The arrested person usually is fingerprinted and photographed at the time of the booking. The mug shot would be the police photograph of a suspect's face or profile that is taken when the suspect is booked.

A mug shot may be more than just another photograph that portrays "freely available" information. For example, mug shots may contain/convey information that is intended for the use of a particular group or class of persons. Mug shots are taken for law enforcement purposes, and in some jurisdictions they are not routinely made available to the public. Depending on the photo, the mug shot may preserve, in its unique and visually powerful way, the subject individual's brush with the law for posterity. Since a mug shot's stigmatizing effect can last well beyond the actual criminal proceedings, mug shots should be used with care within Wikipedia and in recognition of Wikipedia's Biographies of living persons and Neutral point of view policies. See generally Times Picayune Pub. Corp. v. U.S. Dept. of Justice, 37 F. Supp. 2d 472 (E.D. La. 1999); referenced in U.S. Department of Justice, Freedom of Information Act Guide, May 2004 at note 55 "(protecting the mug shot of a prominent individual despite wide publicity prior to his guilty plea and observing that a 'mug shot is more than just another photograph of a person') (Exemption 7(C))").

See also

  • {{PD-USGov-DOJ}} - For mugshots taken by the United States Bureau of Prisons or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
  • {{PD-CAGov}} {{PD-FLGov}} - For mugshots taken in those states.