An arrest can have a significant impact on your reputation – this is particularly true in the digital age. Even if you’re eventually found not guilty of the crime for which you were arrested, if a potential employer, significant other, or anyone else were to Google you in the future, they might learn of the incident - and you don’t want this to happen.
That’s why it’s essential to understand what steps you can take to restore your online reputation after an arrest. While you’ll hopefully never have to use the following tips, if you are arrested or have a bad story put online, you’ll be glad you familiarized yourself with them.
Before you determine how to restore your online reputation, you'll need to understand how it’s been affected by your arrest. Search for your online arrest record and any news stories from police blotters. Knowing precisely how much information about your arrest is available online will help you better understand what steps you need to take next.
The best time to start cleaning up your online presence is now. You want an attorney who can resolve your case in a way that will look best online. There are many factors that go into the decision on how to resolve your case. If you are thinking about the long-term impact this arrest will have your reputation, make sure the resolution of your case accomplishes the goal of making your online record look as good as possible. This should include trying to have the case dismissed or resolved without an adjudication of guilt.
Through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, you may be able to seal or expunge your arrest record in Florida. Doing so will help you keep any information relating to it off the Internet.
It’s important to understand that sealing or expunging such records isn’t always an option. Various factors affect your eligibility. You also need to secure certain documents from the court to meet the criteria for expungement.
That’s why you should coordinate with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. The resolution of your criminal case controls whether it can be sealed or expunged. They’ll offer advice, helping determine if sealing or expungement are viable options in your case.
There may be instances when information about your arrest record can be removed from the Internet.
You can also reach out to the owners of any websites where information about your record is shared. There are cases when you can get website owners to remove such content, especially if you were found not guilty of the crimes for which you were originally arrested.
News outlets are often reluctant to remove material. However, they may be willing to update the story or publish an addendum showing the disposition of the case and casting you in a more favorable light.
It’s always a good idea to manage your privacy settings on social media. The more people can see your profile, the better the odds they can find information about you, sharing it with those who you would prefer didn’t see it. Of course, you also don’t want potential employers and other parties to access your social media accounts directly if you believe there is even a chance they will find information about your arrest record.
As soon as you contact an attorney after being arrested, take a look at your current privacy settings on social media. If they aren’t sufficiently protecting your accounts, make the necessary changes until you’re confident your social media presence is as secure as possible.
You should never post anything on social media, blogs, or any other platforms about your arrest. While it can be tempting to vent online if you’ve been arrested (particularly if you believe you are innocent of the charges), this is a mistake for obvious reasons.
The most important party to contact after an arrest is a criminal defense lawyer. They’ll help you secure an ideal outcome in your case, and they may be able to assist in managing your online reputation.
That said, there are other specialists you can coordinate with if you’re unable to remove all the information and posts you would like to remove. In cases where you can’t remove some posts regarding your arrest record in Florida, you can instead limit the odds of those posts ranking high when someone Googles your name. Doing so involves ensuring more positive information about you is posted online. If you can’t remove harmful content, you can at least attempt to bury it.
You may try to do this on your own. For example, you could create your own blog, consistently posting the type of positive content you want people to see when they search for you. However, you might not have the time to post as often as you need to. Additionally, if you don’t understand such topics as SEO, the content you post likely won’t rank higher than the negative content.
This is an instance when it may be helpful to hire an online reputation management company. These companies employ experts who generate positive content explicitly designed to restore their clients’ online reputations after arrests and similar incidents. If that sounds like an appealing option, research these companies to find one that’s right for your needs and budget.
It’s much easier to ensure the information available about you online is positive if you give people a reason to generate that type of content. How you do so will depend on several factors.
For instance, you may decide to get involved in community volunteer service. If it's a big deal, it’s possible news outlets will cover this. If you have the means, you could even start a charity, which will help boost your online reputation substantially in the long run.
Your main goal is to consider what steps you can take to create positive stories about yourself online naturally. Those are merely two examples to help you start brainstorming.
Again, someone who has posted information about your arrest online may not be willing to remove it. However, if you can prove you were found not guilty of a crime, or if you can demonstrate the arrest wasn’t valid, they might at least be willing to update the post accordingly. Consider reaching out and requesting that changes be made if you believe they are justified.
Again, news outlets are often reluctant to remove the story of your arrest. However, they may be willing to update the story or publish and addendum showing the case was dismissed.
Feeling stressed about your online reputation after an arrest is completely understandable. Thanks to the Internet, we live in an age where people may Google your name for various reasons. You want to be sure the content they find paints you in a good light. Luckily, by taking these steps and coordinating with legal experts, you can prevent an arrest from interfering with your future.
If you want to learn more on this topic, check out our blog on seven truths about internet mugshot removal websites.
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