Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Woman behind 'attractive convict' mug shot sues for invasion of privacy

In the early hours of July 25, 2010, a Hillsborough jail deputy snapped a routine booking photo of Meagan Simmons, who had been arrested on a DUI charge. In the picture, her head appeared slightly and seductively cocked. Her hair, tousled just the right way. Her eyes, hazel and piercing.

The mug shot turned out like a glamor shot, and it launched a thousand memes. "Guilty of taking my breath away." "This is what a model inmate looks like." "Arrested for breaking and entering your heart." On countless websites, Simmons, 28, became known as the "attractive convict."

None of this escaped her notice. Last year, the mother of four from Zephyrhills tweeted "look who made the cut!" when her photo was part of an Inside Edition special about hot mug shots. She did interviews with the Huffington Post and the Daily Mail in April. There was even chatter she'd pose for Playboy if given the opportunity.

This week, however, she indicated she's had enough publicity. In a lawsuit filed in Hillsborough County, Simmons accused the background check website InstantCheckmate.com of using her picture for commercial and advertising purposes, without compensating her or even getting her permission.

Simmons declined to comment to the Tampa Bay Times and spoke through her attorney, Matthew Crist.

"At the end of the day, this is actually about intellectual property," Crist said. "If someone is going to use your image, they need to pay you for it."

He likened the issue to Colgate using Tom Cruise's image to sell toothpaste without his permission.

Interest in the photo simmered up in August 2012, when a compilation of images was posted to men's interest site the Chive under the headline: "Who knew mugshots could be so attractive." From there, Simmons' face made its way through various photo sharing sites. On April 3, a user named Vestra on Reddit posted her picture with the caption, "Can I have her cell number." Another user quickly followed with "I guess it's true, looks do kill." It went on from there.

Even today, Simmons has a strong social media presence — she has 1,182 Instagram followers and 2,434 Twitter followers. She told the Daily Mail last year she didn't much like the photo that has become so admired.

"I don't think it's that good a picture. There are other ones I would prefer," she said in the Daily Mail story.

So why does Simmons have an issue with the exposure now, when before she seemed to embrace it?

The distinction, Crist said, is that InstantCheckmate.com is using her image for obvious financial gain. The other pictures floating around are more for fun and enjoyment.

An InstantCheckmate.com ad attached to the lawsuit shows Simmons' photo with the caption "Sometimes the cute ones aren't that innocent." The Checkmate logo is displayed next to a button that says "check now."

InstantCheckmate.com did not return a call for comment.

In the suit, Simmons alleges the exposure has disturbed her peace of mind, invaded her privacy and caused her anguish. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction to prevent further use of her picture.

When asked how the situation caused her mental anguish, Crist said it was early in the lawsuit and the main point was that what InstantCheckmate.com was doing was illegal.

"The legal issue is it's your face, and your name. You own it," he said. "You can use it, you control it and when someone misappropriates it — that's when you're violating Florida law."

Woman behind 'attractive convict' mug shot sues for invasion of privacy 02/27/14 [Last modified: Thursday, February 27, 2014 11:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. After offseason of work hard, play hard, DeSean Jackson ready to produce for Bucs

    Bucs

    TAMPA — There's no telling what DeSean Jackson will do once he gets a football in his hands. Perhaps that's why a camera crew followed his every move Wednesday while the Bucs' new $30 million receiver stood on a step of the hot tub that empties into a spacious, azure pool at his new, sprawling five-bedroom home in …

    DeSean Jackson jokes around with girlfriend Kayla Phillips at their Tampa home as a crew from HBO’s Hard Knocks documents their day.
  2. Trump announces $10 billion Foxconn plant in Wisconsin

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Wednesday that electronics giant Foxconn will build a $10 billion factory in Wisconsin that's expected to initially create 3,000 jobs, the largest economic development project in state history.

    President Donald Trump embraces Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the East Room of the White House during an announcement Wednesday that Foxconn is going to build a plant in Wisconsin.
  3. Playoff chase heats up for Rays with key series at Yankees up first (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It was important that Evan Longoria crushed a two-run homer in the sixth inning Wednesday and Steven Souza Jr. blasted a solo shot off the farthest catwalk an inning later.

    Adeiny Hechavarria (11) and Tim Beckham (1) celebrate the double play to end the top of the sixth inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. Conservatives come to Sessions' defense amid Trump attacks

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Republicans and influential conservatives rallied around Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday as President Donald Trump kept up his public pelting of the nation's top law enforcement officer and left his future in doubt.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions
  5. Jones: Alex Cobb proves again why he's Rays' stopper, no matter how long he's here (w/ video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG

    If a team hopes to hang around the pennant race, it better have an ace. A stopper. A pitcher it can count on every fifth day to stop the bleeding, keep a winning streak going or flat-out win a game that a team flat-out needs to win.

    Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb (53) throwing the first inning. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]