Darienite.com Guidelines on Naming People Who Are Arrested

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These are guidelines that inform our editorial judgment, not rules strictly applied. We decide each case based on individual circumstances, but we’re extremely unlikely to not report a name or remove it for a major crime.

These guidelines apply particularly to arrests involving charges of driving under the influence, domestic violence, possession of minor amounts of marijuana, possession of minor amounts of alcohol by someone under age 21 (and charges related to alcohol possession), as well as arrests less serious charges. The name of anyone repeatedly arrested on even the charges we’ve just mentioned is likely to be published.

Darienite.com usually does not give out the names of people arrested on certain charges unless the incidents are repeated, particularly harmful to victims, potentially harmful to the public or take place in public, because we usually don’t see a public interest in knowing about a passing indiscretion that is not usually repeated.

There’s a significant exception to this: For someone in a position of public trust, such as an elected official, important appointed official or even a celebrity of some sort, we believe we have an obligation to identify the public figure arrested or even charged with a minor crime, including infractions.

We don’t think these arrests need to be public knowledge on a permanent basis. (We don’t have a policy on this for arrests involving public figures.)

Before the Internet, when a newspaper or magazine mentioned an arrestee’s name, that arrest usually became difficult for the public at large to look up long after it happened, but that isn’t so with the Internet.

If charges are dropped (as they are in most domestic violence cases, driving under the influence cases and some other cases in Connecticut courts) or the state permanently seals the file, then we usually will remove a name from our website. If search engines still point to the page weeks later, we’ll usually remove the article, often republishing it with a new Web address (URL). This usually happens only if the arrestee or the arrestee’s lawyer shows us this happened.

Readers should keep in mind that people who are arrested will often have problems that deserve our sympathy. If a victim is involved, that person often deserves our sympathy much more, and that sympathy sometimes includes naming the arrestee, but not always, and that’s never the primary reason we’ll publish the name.

Different news organizations have different policies about naming arrestees, and standards about this aren’t widespread, so if you’re a Darienite or arrested in Darien for all but very minor charges, you should know that your name may be published somewhere. That is likely to be unpleasant, but it’s extremely rare that, by itself, it will drastically change your life.

— March 5, 2017