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Record Expunged, Elderly Woman Fights To Remove Mugshot From Websites

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Barbara De Paolo has been fighting with websites to take down her mugshot after domestic violence charges were dropped and her record was expunged. (Source: Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office)

Barbara De Paolo has been fighting with websites to take down her mugshot after domestic violence charges were dropped and her record was expunged. (Source: Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office)

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FORT LAUDERDALE (CBS4) – Barbara De Paolo may not look like someone you’d see hauled away in cuffs, but 2 years ago – at 79, she was arrested and booked into the Palm Beach County jail.

“They handcuffed me and put me in the patrol car,” she said.

Barbara was accused of domestic battery.  She said she was frustrated and grabbed her ailing husband by the arm to get him to the bathroom.  He didn’t like that and called police.

“There were some marks on his arm,” Barbara said. “And thin skinned, had a lot of purple marks the way we do as we’re aging.”

The charges were dropped and Barbara’s record was expunged, so imagine her shock when a web search turned up this her mug shot, still showing her arrest.

“I am not guilty and it makes me look as though I am,” she said.

Barbara tried contacting the websites but had little luck. When Barbara finally got someone, she said she was told it would cost her.

“Finally the man said to me that it will cost me at least $398 to get my picture removed from the website,” said Barbara.

We contacted one of the sites called “Busted.”  In an e-mail, a communication specialist said, “with proof of sealing from the courts, we can remove immediately at no cost.”

Attorney Eric Schwartzreich says that’s the way it should be.

“If someone presents them an expungement package, a court order and order from the court that this has been expunged, that company should have an obligation to take down that picture right away,” said Schwartzreich,.

Barbara thinks these out of date mugshots cost her a chance at a job.  She’s angry and frustrated and wants the pictures gone.

“I want my picture down!” she said. “I want my reputation, as an 81 year old woman who may have a few years left, I just want to enjoy my life, what’s left of it, without this hanging over my head.”

Legislation about this very thing is winding its way through Tallahassee.  It calls for these websites to take down that information within 15 days of being notified by the person that they have been found not guilty or the record has been expunged.

If not, those websites could face a fine.

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