Smiling for your mugshots is a really disastrous choice – and can have more consequences than you think. Attorney Ben Schwartz offers some practical advice on an interesting topic.


Hi, I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz.

I don’t usually handle criminal cases. Other Attorneys in our firm do. When I do, I tell my clients to expect to have mugshots taken when they turn themselves in and are processed on criminal charges. For years, I have told my clients not to smile.  I tell them to look directly at the camera with a straight face because they will look like idiots if they smile!

I just saw this article on the internet. A woman in Pennsylvania (It was actually Texas) got arrested.  She’s a teacher; she’s married. She’s an adult. However, she was allegedly having sex with a 17-year-old student. When she had her mugshot taken, she was smiling – she looked just as happy as could be! I think a smiling mugshot sends the wrong message.  I think it says you are not taking your arrest seriously. I think if you are in the unfortunate position of needing a mugshot, you should just look straight at the camera and not smile. Don’t frown, but maintain a neutral look on your face.  This expression sends a message (if anyone ever sees that photo) that you are taking your arrest seriously and you are not getting any pleasure out of being arrested or receiving potentially negative publicity.  The local newspapers can find out that you were arrested, and they might run the story. What picture do you think they use?  It’s almost always your mugshot picture that goes into the story.

I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz, and our office handles criminal defense cases. This is my tip for the day: if you’re getting arrested – keep a straight face. Your arrest is no laughing matter.