Opinion Letter No. 03-09
June 26, 2003
Police Department Mug Shots
In OIP Opinion Letter Number 94-12, the OIP opined
that a Hawaii Police Department mug shot must be made available
for public inspection and copying under the Uniform Information
Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (“UIPA”).
Thereafter, the Honolulu Police Department asked the OIP to address
related issues concerning the disclosure of mug shots. The OIP opined
When an arrest is expunged, there is no longer any
public record of the arrest. The OIP determined that Police Department
mug shots of arrests that have been expunged by order of the Attorney
General are protected from public inspection and copying under section
92F-13(4), Hawaii Revised Statutes (“HRS”). Nevertheless,
the UIPA does not authorize the withholding of access to mug shots
due to the possibility that an expungement order may be obtained
in the future.
Chapter 846, HRS, which covers disclosure of criminal
history record information, does not restrict the disclosure of
mug shots if the arrest is less than one year old, if active prosecution
of the charge remains pending, or if a conviction results. Juvenile
records can only be disclosed as authorized by section 846-12, HRS.
If the mug shot is disclosable, state identification
numbers and dates of arrest contained on mug shots are to be disclosed
Mug shots cannot be categorically withheld from public
access based on considerations that disclosure would place an individual
in physical danger or reveal a part of a confidential investigation.
Likewise, public disclosure of mug shots cannot be
withheld based on concerns that an arrested person’s mug shot
could lead to the inadmissibility of the results of a photographic
or other lineup identification procedure.