Mugshots are a staple of every Hollywood crime movie. And everyone knows that if you get arrested, the police will take your mugshot. But, have you ever wondered why police take mugshots? After all, they cost both time and money – so why go to the bother and expense?
The main reason the police take mugshots is that it’s rare that someone gets arrested the first time they commit a crime. In general, they have broken the law in similar ways in the past and simply not gotten caught. With a mugshot, the police can show the photo to victims of similar crimes and ask them if this is the person who victimized them. This allows them to close open cases and add additional charges onto the person.
Another reason is to make sure that the person has committed the crime in the first place. Often, the police will make an arrest on circumstantial evidence. They then need to confirm that they have arrested the right person. Showing the mugshot to the victim will let them confirm the evidence that led to the arrest – or else let them know that they’ve busted the wrong person.
Mugshots also help out the police if they need to find the person in the future. Most people who are arrested make bail. Some of them then refuse to turn up in court. If the police have a photo of the person, they can then ask the public to get in touch with them if they see them on the street.
Finally, mugshots allow the court system to make sure the right person is put on trial. When the defendant shows up in court, the judge can look at the mugshot and confirm that they have not brought in the wrong person to face the charges.