It's one of the few modern-day downsides to being arrested, among obvious others: the mug shot. It is a necessity at the time of arrest. It does not mean you are guilty, that is left for the court system. But it is the way to track those who are arrested for allegedly committing crimes.
As we know, the law allows you to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you are found not guilty, or otherwise are able to be free of a conviction on your record, then your record will remain clean and you will not have a conviction following you around for the rest of your life. A conviction can have a harmful impact on your life: it can block employment opportunities, relationships and voting and other constitutional rights. Because of this, it is even more important to fight to keep your record clean.
However, this modern-day problem is becoming more common, and more and more harmful to a person. It turns out that even if you win your case and are not convicted, the mug shot photograph will still be out there for the public to see. Before the Internet, this was not such a large problem, but now there are websites that are publishing the mug shots of people arrested, and not just celebrities. Along with the photographs, the websites are publishing names. And, this is where the trouble comes… when you search an individual on the Internet, oftentimes the mug shot is the first piece of information to show up. And this, unfortunately, can have just as harmful a consequence as a conviction. Potential employers, love interests and family can access the images, and all will draw their own conclusions about the individual. What those conclusions are will vary and have different ramifications. Some may understand and ask what happened, and others may assume guilt.
While there is not much that can be done to stop this from going on (there are ongoing attempts by attorneys and even some lawmakers to shut down these sites or simply to remove images at the request of individuals), it is important to be aware these sites exist.
One reason to make people aware of these sites is so that they can take control of their lives. You can try to get the sites to remove the pictures (some will allow you to pay to remove the pictures) or you can work to be prepared for the public having access to the photo. You can hire an attorney to contact these sites directly and negotiate on your behalf.
Regardless, be prepared so that you can preemptively tell future employers or family that you had been arrested but were not convicted and that your record is clean. It is not ideal, but until the sites come down, it may be one of the best chances you have.