Expungement of Criminal Records – General – South Carolina
1. What is an expungement?
The destruction or sealing of records in order to restore a person to the status they had previous to their detainment, custody, arrest,indictment, or conviction. No person as to whom such order has been entered shall be held thereafter under any provision of any law to be guilty of perjury or otherwise giving a false statement by reason of his failures to recite or acknowledge such arrest, or indictment or information, or trial in response to any inquiry made of him for any purpose.
2. Who is eligible to get records expunged?
By State law, there are seven categories of cases in which the defendant is entitled to have all records relating to an arrest or conviction expunged and destroyed:
1) Section 17-1-40. The charge was dismissed, nol prossed, or the defendant was found not guilty.
2) The defendant successfully completed the Pre-Trial Intervention Program under Section 17-22-150, successfully completes an alcohol education program under 17-22-530, or successfully successfully completes a traffic education program under 17-22-330.
3) Section 34-11-90 (e). The defendant was convicted under the Fraudulent Check Law and no additional criminal activity has taken place in one year from the date of conviction.
4) Section 44-53-450 (b). Upon the dismissal of the person and discharge of the proceedings against him pursuant to subsection (a), and if the offense did not involve a controlled substance classified in Schedule I which is a narcotic drug and Schedule II which is a narcotic drug.
5) Section 22-5-910. Following a first offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of five hundred dollars, or both, the defendant after three years from the date of the conviction may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction. However, this section does not apply to:
(1) an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle;
(2) a violation of Title 50 or the regulations promulgated pursuant
to Title 50 for which points are assessed, suspension provided for, or
enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses are authorized; or
(3) an offense contained in Chapter 25, Title 16, except first offense
criminal domestic violence as contained in Section 16-25-20, which may be
expunged five years from the date of the conviction.
(B) If the defendant has had no other conviction during the
three-year period, or during the five-year period as provided in
subsection (A)(3), following the first offense conviction for a crime
carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of
not more than five hundred dollars, or both, the circuit court may issue
an order expunging the records. No person may have his records expunged
under this section more than once. A person may have his record expunged
even though the conviction occurred prior to June 1, 1992.
6) Section 56-5-750. The defendant was convicted of a first offense, non-aggravated violation for Failure to Stop for a Blue Light and Siren, and had no other convictions for any crime for three years following the completion of all terms and conditions of the Blue Light sentence.
7) Section 22-5-920. Following the first offense conviction as a youthful offender, the defendant after five years from the date of the conviction may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction. This does not apply to an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle, to a violation of Title 50 or the regulations promulgated under it for which points are assessed, suspension provided for, or enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses authorized, to an offense classified as a violent crime in Section 16-1-60, or to an offense contained in Chapter 25, Title 16, except as otherwise provided in Section 16-25-30.
3. What records may be expunged?
All official records (other than the nonpublic records to be retained for purposes of confirming first offender status or first expungement in later applications) all recordation relating to his arrest, indictment or information, trial, finding of guilty, and dismissal and discharge. Juveniles records of adjudication and being taken into custody may also be expunged. Also, DNA records and samples of a conviction or adjudication that has been reversed, set aside, or vacated may be destroyed under§ 23-3-660.
4. How do I get records expunged?
The process for the expungement of a criminal charge is as follows:
A. Obtain the necessary information for eligibility from the records of the Clerk of Court, Magistrate’s Court, Municipal Court, NCIC, Sheriff’s Department, Police Department, and/or other sources.
B. Prepare and type a proposed Order, acceptable to SC Court Administration.
C. Submit proposed order to SLED to confirm that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement.
D. Obtain the signature of the Solicitor/Deputy Solicitor.
E. Obtain the approval and signature of a Circuit Court Judge.
F. File the original signed Order in the Office of the Clerk of Court (The law provides for a filing fee to be paid to the clerk at the time of filing, except category #1.)
G. Obtain certified copies of the Order from the Clerk of Court.
H. Deliver or mail certified copies of the Order to appropriate agencies.
The Solicitor’s Office may process steps A through E for the applicant and will provide the guidance necessary for the applicant to accomplish steps E through H.
A person applying to expunge a criminal record shall obtain the appropriate blank expungement order form from the solicitor’s office in the judicial circuit where the charge originated. The use of this form is mandatory and to the exclusion of all other expungement forms.
In exchange for this service, the applicant is responsible for payment of an administrative fee to the Solicitor’s Office, in the form of a money order, in the amount of two hundred fifty dollars ($250.00) per order, which shall be retained by the Solicitor’s Office to defray the costs associated with this process. In addition, SLED shall receive a twenty-five dollar ($25.00) money order, from the applicant, to confirm that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement.
Requests arising under Section 17-1-40, where the charge was dismissed, nol prossed, or the defendant was found not guilty on a General Sessions charge in this Circuit will be processed free of charge.