FROM TEARS TO NEW POLICY: Boca Raton Battery Arrests

BocaNewsNow.com announces new policy for battery arrests.

BocaNewsNow.com announces new policy for battery arrests.

BOCA RATON, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) — We received a tearful letter this week from a young woman who was arrested by the Boca Raton Police Department last year for Battery. She begged us to remove the article about her arrest, saying that she was finding it impossible to find work with her mugshot, and story, online.

We researched the case and learned not only did the State Attorney’s Office decline to prosecute the 21-year-old, but a judge ordered her record expunged. We removed the article, her photograph, and only wish we had known about the expungement sooner.

She was defending herself against an abusive boyfriend when she was taken into custody.

We are under no obligation to remove the story. The information is public record. We did it because it’s the right thing to do.

In Boca Raton and throughout Florida, “Battery” is all too often a fallback charge. Police officers have little leeway. State statute requires — 99.9% of the time — for someone to be arrested if officers are called to a domestic disturbance. Police aren’t being mean or vindictive, they are merely doing what they are sworn to do. Uphold the law.

But for the unsuspecting college student, battered spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend who happens to fight back and ends up getting hauled off to jail because someone else’s bruises are bigger, a simple act of “I’ve had enough” routinely ends up in a reputation ending experience.

Mugshots in Florida are public record. Police are required to release arrest information upon request. And in a world of media cutbacks, that’s often all the information that is reported. The Internet becomes the judge and jury, with reporters rarely  following up to learn of a case disposition in court.

Slimy mugshot websites now proliferate, automatically republishing feeds of mugshots within minutes of a photo being taken in a county jail, then charging hundreds of dollars to have the mugshot removed. It’s a giant game of whack-a-mole. A mugshot is removed from one website, only to appear on another.

At BocaNewsNow.com, we are instituting a new policy. Unless there is a compelling reason to do so, we will no longer report domestic abuse arrests — especially for arrestees under 25. There are exceptions: public figures, arrestees who hold positions where they are licensed by the State of Florida or another governing body, or arrestees who have been charged more than once. When we do report battery arrests, we will remove the story — and image — upon notification that the charges have been dropped, case has been dismissed, or arrest record has been expunged.

We call on other media to follow our lead. The Sun Sentinel this week reported on a young woman charged with battery for defending herself in a pillow fight. Funny? Somewhat. Unnecessary ruining of her reputation? Yes.

No media organization is going to be sued for running a legitimate story about an arrest. It is public record. But in our Internet age, every story is a global story. Information isn’t limited to one newspaper in one county. What is published on BocaNewsNow.com is indexed by Google moments later and visible worldwide within seconds. That is why we are going to do the right thing.

We hope others will as well.

 

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BocaNewsNow.com is the leading hyper-local news website based in and serving Boca Raton, Florida and South Palm Beach County. Our pages have been visited millions of times since our first post on October 4th, 2011. We have a verified history of reporting news, providing opinion and snark.

BocaNewsNow.com is NOT a mugshot website. We have never charged and DO NOT charge for mugshot removal. We are a news organization registered with the State of Florida and exempt from Senate Bill 118. We publish arrests of note provided to us by law enforcement under Chapter 119 of Florida Statutes. While we review all requests for removal, we are not obligated to remove reports that are a part of the public record.

When removal is appropriate, we do so at no charge. We do not accept payment for mugshot or arrest report deletion.

We are cognizant of the impact an arrest may have on one's life. If you are exonerated or if charges are dropped, please contact us to request an appropriate update to or removal of a specific story. We remind our readers that an arrest is an accusation. Guilt or innocence is determined in a court of law. Email us at news (at) bocanewsnow.com or telephone 561-419-9520.

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