California Law Regulates Police Social Media Posts

Feb 14, 2022

On July 23, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom approved Assembly Bill 1475 which regulates the posting of booking photos on social media platforms by law enforcement agencies.

On January 1, 2022, California Penal Code Section 13665 became law. Here’s what you need to know as a public affairs officer or social media manager posting for a law enforcement agency.

Non Violent Crimes

If a person has been arrested for a non-violent crime, you can not post their booking photo on social media, unless:

  • They are a fugitive and posting the photo will assist in locating or apprehending the suspect
  • There is a threat to public safety and posting the photo will reduce or eliminate that threat
  • A judge orders it in furtherance of a legitimate law enforcement purpose
  • Exigent circumstances necessitate the dissemination for an urgent and legitimate law enforcement purpose.

If an agency posts the booking photo of an individual arrested for a non-violent crime on social media, they have 14 days to remove it if requested by the subject of the post or their representative.

“We recommend law enforcement social media managers and specialists meet with their department’s administration and public information officers to ensure they understand the parameters of this new law as well as establish a process for archiving and posting booking photos in the future.”

Tamrin Olden

CEO, TOC Public Relations

Violent Crimes

If a person has been arrested for a crime specified in California Penal Code Section 667.5(c) and their booking photo was posted on social media by a law enforcement agency, that agency is required to remove the post within 14 days after receiving a request by the subject of the post or their representative if the following can be proven:

  • The individual’s record has been sealed.
  • The conviction has been dismissed, expunged, pardoned, or eradicated pursuant to law.
  • The individual was issued a certificate of rehabilitation.
  • The individual was found not guilty of the crime for which they were arrested.
  • The individual was not charged with the crime, or the charges were dismissed.

The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to remove past booking photos of subjects who were ultimately found not guilty of a non-violent crime from their social media accounts.

Infographic for California Penal Code Section 13665

Have Questions?

Feel free to reach out to the team at TOC Public Relations if you need further information about this article.

References

Assembly Bill 1475
Penal Code Section 13665
Penal Code Section 667.5(c)