What Charges Can Be Expunged in SC?
No one wants to be branded as a criminal for the rest of his or her life. Yet, if you have a criminal record, that’s exactly what can happen.
Whether you were convicted of a crime or arrested on charges that were later dropped, once people find out that you have a rap sheet, their attitude toward you may change. Unfortunately, this attitude isn’t even the worst part. You could lose basic rights, like the right to vote, or miss out on job opportunities, or even be denied a lease on a home.
What if your life didn’t have to be like that? What if your criminal record just disappeared?
If you’re eligible for expungement, then your criminal record could be destroyed and erased. You could get a fresh start on life.
There are many reasons you may be interested in expungement. For instance, maybe you:
- Made a mistake and paid the price
- Were charged with a crime, but the charges were dropped
- Were accused of a crime you didn’t commit and were found not guilty
If you’re ready to put your criminal record behind you for good, read on to learn about the expungement law in South Carolina.
Basics of Expungements
In South Carolina, criminal charges and convictions may be eligible for expungement, but only under certain conditions. Typically, only minor crimes and first-time offenses are eligible.
Expungement isn’t automatic, and it isn’t guaranteed. You have to go through an application process.
If your request for expungement is granted, the court will issue an Order for Destruction of Arrest Records, which means the following must be destroyed:
- Arrest records
- Booking files
- Mug shots
Once this happens, all information about the expunged charges or conviction will be removed from your criminal record.
What Can Be Expunged?
Only certain charges and convictions are eligible for expungement in South Carolina. These fall into one of three situations.
1. If you were charged with a crime, but the charge was dropped…
This category includes charges that are:
- Nolle prossed, meaning not prosecuted
2. If you were charged, but weren’t convicted of a crime…
In some instances, you may face a charge but not end up with a conviction. For example, if you:
- Were found not guilty
- Completed a pretrial intervention or diversion program
- Completed a conditional discharge
3. If you were convicted of a crime…
Individuals convicted as first-time offenders of minor, non-violent offenses are often eligible for expungement.
The State of South Carolina requires waiting periods before you can apply for an expungement, and the length of the waiting period depends on the conviction.
|Writing a bad check||1 year|
|Minor conviction with a sentence no longer than 30 days in jail||3 years|
|First juvenile offense||5 years|
|Simple possession of marijuana||Completion of sentence|
Can traffic cases be expunged?
Right now only one type of traffic offense can be expunged: a first offense of failing to stop for law enforcement.
Any other traffic offenses—including DUI’s — can’t be expunged.
What Can’t Be Expunged?
Charges that cannot be expunged involve repeat offenses, major offenses and violent offenses. Specifically, the following charges are not eligible for expungement:
- Domestic violence
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC)
- Motor vehicle or traffic violations
- Seriously violent crimes, like murder
- Wildlife charges, such as hunting, fishing and gaming violations
If you have one of the above charges on your record, you may be able to obtain a pardon. To do so, you must apply to the Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Board.
Getting a pardon doesn’t remove the charges or conviction from your criminal record. However, a pardon does end the punishment associated with the crime, so you’ll regain rights and privileges that may have been taken away as a result of your sentence.
Getting an Expungement
To get charges expunged from your record, you’ll have to pay filing fees and go through an application process.
What does an expungement cost?
There are several fees associated with getting an expungement, which add up to $310.
- $250 administrative fee for the solicitor’s office
- $25 verification fee for the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
- $35 filing fee for the Clerk of Court
All of these fees are non-refundable. You must pay with a separate money order for each fee.
What are the steps of the expungement process?
- 1. Contact Coastal Law Firm and our office will properly prepare and submit your petition to expunge your record in the judicial circuit where your offense took place.
- 2. Pay all of the required fees, as described above.
Do you have a criminal record you want expunged?
Applying for expungement can be a time-consuming process and South Carolina’s expungement laws can be confusing. If you have questions about your criminal record or getting it expunged, consider talking to a lawyer about the details of your case.
An experienced criminal attorney will be able to answer your questions and guide you through the process of getting your record cleaned up.
To schedule a free consultation, call our legal team at (843) 488-5000, or complete our online form.
Ready to Speak with an Attorney?
Contact Coastal Law to discuss your situation.
1104 North Oak Street
Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
1314 2nd Avenue
Conway, SC 29526
231 King Street
Charleston, SC 29401
1201 Main Street, Suite 1913
Columbia, SC 29201
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