What would you do if information on the internet about you gave a false impression to the rest of the world? It's happening to many people in Ohio and it all has to do with a simple picture. Now, a new law just might have the solution.
"A lot of individuals have never been charged, never convicted," said State Representative John Barnes Jr. from Cuyahoga County. He told us that’s why he’s fighting an injustice.
"It's inhibiting people from employment. It's hurting their reputation,” said Rep. Barnes. “You know that your good name is so very important."
Here's the problem:
Some websites grab a mug shot after someone has been arrested and then post that on the Internet.
It's public information so it's allowed, but it becomes a problem when people have been falsely accused.
"Most of them are very frustrated. Most have become victims of circumstance," said Rep. Barnes.
News 5 obtained testimony from a man in Columbus who was arrested but who told the legislature he "spent 21 days locked up in jail" for something his "twin brother" was involved with.
"That's wrong,” said Rep. Barnes. “That shouldn't be happening in the state of Ohio."
But it gets even worse. When victims asked the websites to take their pictures down, some received a devious answer.
"Hey, guy, I'll remove this but it's going to cost you a thousand bucks," said Rep. Barnes doing an impression of a typical response from some sites.
So, Rep. Barnes introduced a bill that would combat these kinds of problems. The bill says if websites are caught demanding fees for removing a picture it will be a 1st-degree misdemeanor with a civil penalty of up to $10,000 dollars.
"We will monitor it and if we need to develop something that's stronger after this, then we'll pursue it,” he told us.
The Ohio Senate approved the Mug Shot Bill late Wednesday afternoon and now it goes to Governor John Kasich's desk. It’s expected to be signed into law within the next 10 days.
If you are having a problem with this kind of a situation, Representative Barnes said he wants you to contact him. His number in Columbus is 614.466.1408 or his email is Rep12@Ohiohouse.gov.