How to Remove a News Article, Arrest Record, Police Blotter, and/or Mugshot from Google Search or the Internet

If you are wondering how to remove harmful content, such as a news article, arrest record, mugshot, police blotter, and/or criminal record, from Google searches and the Internet, you are not alone.  As expungement lawyers, we are frequently asked this question by our clients.

Most people assume that it is impossible to remove negative newspaper articles, etc., from Google searches and/or the Internet.  In fact, many lawyers advise clients that this is the case since the news articles are factually accurate and, therefore, protected speech. Nonetheless, it is possible to remove news articles from Google searches and/or the Internet.

This article will provide an overview of our content removal services and will hopefully answer many of your questions.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we help clients remove harmful content from the Internet NATIONWIDE. Thus, regardless of where you are located in the United States — we can help.


One of the first questions clients ask us is whether or not an expungement order issued by the state in which the arrest took place will require these news articles, mugshots, etc., to be removed from the Internet.  The short answer is no.

Perhaps your record has been expunged, or you are contemplating expunging your criminal record.   Regardless, you might be wondering whether it even makes sense to expunge your record so that it no longer appears on criminal background checks when a quick Google search of your name will quickly reveal your arrest information.

Expungement laws vary widely by state.  While some states allow for the expungement of criminal records (also known as sealing in some states), others do not.  Moreover, even assuming your state allows for the expungement of criminal records, you should be aware that the expungement order will only direct law enforcement agencies (such as the courts, police departments, and/or the FBI) to refrain from disclosing your expunged records in response to a background check request.

An expungement order in no way will require the press, news organizations, or any other private company or website to take down articles that mention the expunged matters.  In fact, to do so would violate the first amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Thus, expungement, unfortunately, will not force news organizations or websites to remove the expunged information from the news article.  As discussed in further detail below, however, if we can provide news agencies with evidence that the record has been dismissed and/or expunged, it will usually strengthen our case.


Probably not.  If, at the time the newspaper article was written, the information contained within that article was most likely true (i.e., John Does was arrested on January 1, 2017, and charged with DWI in Pleasantville, New Jersey), there is simply no legal basis for alleging that the news article’s content is defamatory and/or that it constitutes libel or slander as each of these legal causes of action requires that the content be false.  Thus, if the information was accurate at the time of the arrest, a suit for defamation, libel, or slander wouldn’t get you anywhere. Even if the article contains minor inaccuracies, the most the news agency would do is update the article to make it accurate.

 Removing a News Article from Google Search and the Internet

If the news article you are attempting to remove is not false or defamatory, your options as far as removing the article go are limited.  In essence, the only way to remove the article is to directly contact the news agency or the individual who published it and request that they remove it.  This request is known in the industry as a request for “unpublishing.”

Whether or not the news agency will remove the content depend on the policies and procedures that the agency has adopted in terms of unpublishing requests.  While some agencies have adopted a strict “no unpublishing” policy, oftentimes, news agencies have not adopted a formal policy regarding unpublishing requests.  In those cases, it is highly recommended that you retain a lawyer to advocate on your behalf and work to (1) research whether or not it is possible to remove the content in your case; (2) find the right individual within the news agency to speak with regarding your request; and (3) convince the organization to remove the article, to amend it, or to come to some other agreement that will benefit you.

In addition to completely removing the article, other available options that news articles might agree to could include:

  • Publishing edits or corrections to articles that contain inaccurate or outdated information
  • Coding the webpage in a manner that will prevent the article from showing up in search results (i.e., placing a “noindex” tag in the source code of the website)
  • Making other edits or corrections to the article that will make your identity anonymous

Moreover, in some cases, it may be possible to get Google to “deindex,” or remove the website page from its search results altogether. Google, however, prefers when content is removed at the source and so will only deindex under very limited circumstances.

In determining whether or not to remove or amend a particular article, news organizations will take the following factors, among others, into consideration:

  • The reasons you are requesting an unpublishing
  • Whether you were ultimately convicted or found guilty of the criminal offense mentioned in the article
  • Whether you have had the criminal offense mentioned in the article expunged from your record
  • The age of the news article
  • Whether you were a minor at the time the article was written
  • Whether the news article is inaccurate in any way

In short, you will usually have one chance to “make your pitch” as to why the news agency should remove or amend the article in your case.  Thus, it is vital that you retain an experienced news article removal lawyer to persuade a news organization to unpublish your article.

No Fee Unless We Remove or Deindex

At Katherine O’Brien Law, our content removal lawyers will work to altogether remove the article or deindex the article from Google.  Unless we are successful in doing so, you owe us no fee. Thus, there is absolutely no risk, and you can rest assured knowing that our lawyers will work their hardest to remove or deindex your article.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we don’t get paid unless we remove or deindex your article. This incentivizes us to work hard to obtain removal. Moreover, since we charge a flat rate of $3,000.00 per article successfully removed, you can rest easy knowing what your legal bill will be.

Content Removal vs. Suppression

It is important that you have a clear understanding of the different services that are available to you. When it comes to negative or harmful content on the Internet, you generally have two options. You can hire a content removal service, such as Katherine O’Brien Law, to remove the content from the Internet or a reputation management service to suppress or bury the harmful content in search results.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, our content removal attorneys work to completely and permanently remove harmful content from the Internet. A successful removal could include: (1) convincing the website to take the page down in its entirety; (2)  convincing the website to anonymize you by removing your name from the article; (3) convincing the website to place a “noindex” tag in the source code of the website, which means that the webpage will not show up in search engine results; or (4) convincing Google to deindex the webpage, so that it no longer appears in the search results. Under all four circumstances, the article would not appear in Google searches for your name.

Suppression, on the other hand, does not remove the content from the Internet at all. Instead, the webpage remains unchanged, and a reputation management company works to push the harmful content down (hence the term “suppression”) in search engine results by posting positive or neutral websites that mention your name. Thus, suppression services work to push down the harmful content from the first page or Google to other subsequent pages to make it harder for people to find the harmful content.

For three reasons, however, content removal is far superior to suppression, so it makes sense to try to have a content removal law firm, such as Katherine O’Brien Law, work to altogether remove the content before engaging a reputation management service to suppress the content.

  1. Content Removal Completely Removes the Content from Search Engine Results. With content removal, you can rest assured that the harmful content is completely removed from the Internet altogether, or at the very least, from search engine results. With suppression, the negative content still appears in search engine results. People searching your name on the Internet may have to dig a little deeper to pull up the content, but it is still there in its unaltered state.
  2. Suppression Services Must be Monitored and Maintained for the Rest of Your Life. In addition, what appears on Page 1 of Google today may appear on Page 3 tomorrow and vice versa. Search engines use algorithms to determine the ranking of articles in search results. Moreover, they are constantly changing these algorithms. If you pay a reputation management firm thousands of dollars today to move your content from Page 1 of Google to Page 3, three years from now, you may notice that the harmful content starts increasing its ranking in search results and is steadily making its way back onto Page 1 of Google. Thus, you will then have to engage the reputation management firm again, and pay them more money, to push the article back down in search results. Thus, you constantly have to monitor and pay to maintain suppression results. With content removal, you can rest easy knowing that once we remove an article, it is gone for good, and no one will be able to locate it again and you will not have to pay any additional fees to deal with the article in the future.
  3. Cost. Suppression services are costly. While exact fees will depend on the content being suppressed and the overall ranking of the website it is located on, we have seen suppression services cost an average of $10,000 per article. Moreover, some reputation management services offer monthly subscription services that cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 per month to monitor and maintain their results. As discussed above, these fees may continue well into your future, depending on whether or not the article increases its ranking over time. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we pride ourselves on being transparent in our pricing. We charge a flat fee of $3,000 per article — on a contingency basis. Thus, if we fail to remove the article, you get a 100% full refund of our fee. 

As can be seen, content removal is far superior to suppression services. Thus, the best strategy for almost any case would be to try for a complete removal through a service such as what Katherine O’Brien Law offers FIRST. If we cannot remove the content, we will give you a full refund, which you can THEN put towards hiring a suppression company to bury the content in search results. 

Some clients have told us that suppression services had advised them that it was not possible to remove their harmful content. This is simply not true. You have to remember that suppression services are trying to obtain your business. Thus, they might not notify you that removal is a possibility, even if it would be in your best interest. At Katherine O’Brien Law, we have had overwhelming success in removing harmful content for our clients, so we can say with 100% certainty that these statements are simply not true.

Why Choose Us? Nationwide Content Removal Lawyers

When removing online news articles, you can choose between hiring an attorney or an online reputation management company.  There are several reasons why you should always choose an attorney over an internet-based service run by non-lawyers.

First, unfortunately, many scams are operating online that purport to offer article removal services. Some of these companies are even owned and operated by or closely associated with the same people who operate mugshot and other police blotter websites. Thus, these people are essentially extorting you. Moreover, many of these companies are located abroad and cannot be held accountable for their conduct. Attorneys, however, are ethically and professionally regulated by state bar associations. As such, we are always acting with your best interests in mind.

Second, with legit reputation management companies, many of them will push their suppression services for the reasons discussed above since it is more profitable to them. Even if your reputation management service works on content removals, however, your case will be handled by a non-lawyer. With reputation management companies, your case will be handled by a “reputation specialist.” At Katherine O’Brien Law, your case will be handled by an experienced lawyer who is not only well-versed in content removal techniques and strategies but who is a trained negotiator by profession. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized since the removal of your article will ultimately come down to how your case is presented.

Perhaps most importantly, though, your case must be analyzed and reviewed for any possible legal issues that are likely to apply in any given case. Examples of some of the things that our content removal lawyers will do in any given case include:

  • Reviewing the content to see if it qualifies as revenge porn, harassment, cyberbullying, defamation, defamation in kind, sextortion, etc.
  • Analyzing the content to see if it is eligible for deindexing for being in violation of Google’s content policies, such as exploitative removal practices, images of minors, doxxing, revealing of personally identifiable information, revenge porn, ect.
  • Litigating and obtaining court orders for removal and serving them on the website and search engines;
  • Reviewing the content for copyright/trademark violations and filing Digitial Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) notices. This applies more often than you think and can pressure the website to remove. For example, if the post contains your photograph or text that was copied or reproduced from another source, we may be able to allege a copyright/trademark claim;
  • Reviewing the content for violation of any journalistic ethical standards, such as those pertaining to juveniles or those with mental health disorders;
  • Assisting in the obtainment of expungement or sealing orders or pardons;
  • Corresponding with the organization’s legal counsel regarding the request for removal;
  • Investigating the owner and contact information for sites that attempt to obscure their identity;
  • If the source advises us that they have a “no unpublishing” policy, locating and working with the organization’s lawyers, ethical advisors, or management in an attempt to convince them to change their policy in your situation;
  • If a photo or text on the webpage was taken by or written by someone other than you, reaching out to the photographer or author to obtain their permission to let us act as their assignees for purposes of removal;
  • If your mugshot was taken by a police department, reaching out to the police department to convince them to allow us to act as their copyright agent;
  • If the content is misleading or inaccurate in any way, strategically using this as leverage in an effort convince the organization to remove the harmful content as a whole, not just to correct minor inaccuracies;
  • Reviewing and citing applicable laws and regulations relating to the posting of mugshots online (many states have laws in place regarding the use of mugshots);
  • Reviewing the website’s User Guidelines (for social media posts) and submitting cogent arguments as to how the harmful content violates the same;
  • If the website or organization refuses to unpublish the article, negotiating with them to obtain other favorable outcomes, such as anonymization or noindexing;
  • Educating websites and organizations on what noindexing is, its advantages when unpublishing is not possible, and teaching them how to implement a “noindex” tag;
  • Reaching out to executives at parent companies when subsidiaries will not comply;
  • For published court documents, filing motions in local courts to mark the documents confidential or under seal;
  • For published court documents, filing motions to change the plaintiff’s/defendant’s names to initials or pseudonyms (i.e., John Doe); and
  • If advisable, offering a compromise to remove the harmful content in exchange for a settlement amount for lost future income revenue that this article has and will continue to generate going forward, along with labor, research, and time of producing the article and drafting a contract stipulating the same.

Would you trust any of the above to a “reputation specialist”?

In addition, our contingency fee structure is the most advantageous for you as the client. Most lawyers who handle content removal services do so hourly, meaning that you must pay the lawyer for their work, regardless of whether or not they are successful in removing the content. This fee structure can incentivize lawyers to rack up legal bills, irrespective of any ultimate benefit to the client.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we don’t get paid unless we remove or deindex your article. This incentivizes us to work hard to obtain removal. Moreover, since we charge a flat rate of $3,000.00 per article successfully removed, you can rest easy knowing what your legal bill will be.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we have experience working with both large and small media companies across the nation with a proven track record of success removing negative content for our clients.

Not only have we seen many reputation management services destroy a client’s case — we’ve also seen many lawyers ruin a client’s chances for removal. It’s a huge mistake to hire a defamation lawyer to send threatening demand letters and cease and desist notices. Don’t use a hammer when a scalpel gets the job done. News agencies, police blotters, and mugshot websites know the law. They understand that they probably don’t have to remove your harmful content. These attempts will not go over well, will not be forgotten, and they can forever ruin your chances of removing your content.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we have the tools you need to win. We have a proven strategy that has been perfected over the course of time and is done with our client’s best interest in mind. We take a diplomatic approach to the removal process and try to work with — not against — the people who ultimately will make the critical decision in your case.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we believe that nothing is impossible, and if someone says no — we’re talking to the wrong person. We rarely take no for an answer and are persistent and clever. We will analyze your case from all angles and pursue all means to remove your harmful content — not only because we know how devastating/embarrassing/shameful the content is for you but also because we won’t get paid unless we get it removed.

Moreover, we help clients remove content from the Internet nationwide. Thus, regardless of where you are in the United States, we can help.

Schedule your free consultation now.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why Hire An Attorney? Can’t I Do This on My Own?

As explained above, you get one chance to “make your pitch.” As content removal lawyers, not only have we seen reputation management companies ruin a client’s case, but we’ve witnessed numerous instances of attorneys themselves wrecking a content removal case. This is an area that involves the application of many areas of law and, therefore, should be analyzed by a lawyer fluent in content removal law. It is also an area where strategy and tone are of utmost importance. In our experience, clients are too emotionally invested to be effective advocates for themselves. Moreover, they don’t know what they don’t know.

An analogous situation would be a criminal defendant representing themselves in criminal court. Can they do so? Of course they can. Would any criminal defense attorney recommend that? Heck no! They’ve seen defendants representing themselves railroaded by prosecutors every chance they get. Thus, if you can afford representation, it is highly recommended that you retain an experienced content removal lawyer.

Moreover, as we take our cases on a contingency basis, our office can and oftentimes will decline to represent an individual who worked with another removal service or attorney or who tried to attempt removal themselves before retaining our services. We do this because it is usually impossible for us to correct any harm that was previously done in these cases.

How Long Does The Process Take?

For almost all of our clients, time is of the essence. Every day the negative content remains on the Internet, they are caused further harm. We understand that. As far as how long the removal process will take, though, it is entirely out of our control. The contract you sign when you retain us as your content removal lawyers gives us six months to remove the content. If, after that time, we have not successfully removed the content, you get a 100% refund of the fee.

Not all cases will take six months, however. In fact, most will not. Some may only take a week or two. For more difficult cases, however, persistency — and hence time — can be key and it could take six months to accomplish removal.

Please understand that we are working on removing your case as quickly as possible. We start working on every case right away. Moreover, it is crucial that we not become a nuisance to the organization by asking for updates on our requests too frequently.  If we do, we could be seen as a nuisance and will likely be denied. Thus, we appreciate your patience as we balance these considerations as we work towards accomplishing your goal of obtaining a successful removal.

There Are Numerous Negative Articles Posted About Me. What’s the Point of Hiring Your to Remove Them When You Might Not Be Able to Remove ALL of Them?

We get this question a lot. Maybe you have two articles, and we can only remove one. Or maybe, you have twenty articles written about your case, and we cannot remove three. What’s the point? You might ask.

First, hopefully that will not be the case, and we can successfully remove all of the harmful content in your case. We won’t know until we try, so it makes sense to at least try. Often, we can remove all of the articles, even if there are numerous articles written about your situation.

We recognize, though, that we are not successful in all cases. For any “lingering” articles that might remain after we have concluded our removal work, we will return the fee for those articles, in full, and recommend that you hire a suppression company to work on suppressing whatever articles remain.

For the reasons discussed in the “content removal v. suppression” section of this page above, though, it is much better in the long run — from both a cost and effectiveness perspective — for your to try to permanently remove any articles before doing suppression work on them. The more articles you have to suppress, the more complex and more expensive suppression will be, and the more likely someone will still be able to find the negative content. Thus, the more articles we can permanently remove, the better your overall results will be.

This is, in fact, the most effective negative content removal strategy:

  1. Try to remove completely as many articles as possible; and
  2. Perform suppression on whatever articles remain only as a last resort.

In addition, it is important to keep in mind that some articles are more harmful than others and/or rank higher in search results. If we are able to remove those articles, then you will be much better off.

At Katherine O’Brien Law, we help clients remove content from the Internet nationwide. Thus, regardless of where you are in the United States, we can help.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with a content removal lawyer.

What websites do we work with?

We delete harmful content from any and all websites on the Internet. Some examples of websites we have worked with include but are not limited to: