An expungement is a court order for the destruction of criminal records related to an arrest or conviction. If you are eligible for expungement, a court order will remove the arrest and/or conviction from your criminal record.
South Carolina state law allows for expungement of certain criminal offenses and non-convictions. This guide will help you decide whether you should seek to have a criminal charge or conviction expunged.
- Why File An Application for Expungement?
- What Arrests or Convictions Can Be Expunged From My Criminal Record in South Carolina?
- How Much Do Expungements Cost?
- How Can a South Carolina Expungement Attorney Help?
Why File an Application for Expungement?
A criminal record — including arrests and convictions — can have a negative impact on your ability to find a good job, obtain a professional license, or be approved on a loan application. An expungement can give you a fresh start by having a second chance at a clean criminal record. If you are eligible for an expungement, why wouldn’t you ask to remove arrests or a conviction from your criminal record?
What Arrests or Convictions Can Be Expunged from My Criminal Record in South Carolina?
Non-convictions are charges that have been dismissed, were not prosecuted, or returned not guilty verdicts. You can expunge non-convictions (including the record of arrest).
Charges that have been dismissed pursuant to a plea agreement are treated differently, and include the following scenarios:
- Criminal charges that have been dismissed by the prosecutor because you successfully completed the Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI)
- Criminal charges that have been dismissed by the solicitor because you successfully completed the Traffic Education Program (TEP)
- Criminal charges that have been dismissed or not prosecuted by the solicitor because you successfully completed the Alcohol Education Program (AEP)
- First offense misdemeanor conviction for a bad check (i.e., a single conviction for a fraudulent check); you cannot have an additional criminal conviction within one year from the date of that conviction
- First offense simple possession of marijuana when you consent to a conditional discharge and have successfully complied with the terms of that sentence
- First offense for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment and/or a fine of $500; you cannot have an additional criminal conviction within three years from the date of the first conviction; only your first offense is eligible, and the law specifies that the offense must be a single crime
- Exception: For a first offense conviction of criminal domestic violence (CDV), you must wait five years before filing an expungement application
- Under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA), a first offense if you were between seventeen and twenty-four years old at the time of conviction; the crime must not have been a violent offense as described in Section 16-1-60 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, you must be 17-24 years old at the time of conviction, and you cannot have any additional criminal convictions within five years of completing your probation or parole supervision
- Misdemeanor first offense for failure to stop for blue light; you cannot have any additional convictions within three years of completing the sentence
- Juvenile offenses when the offense was non-violent, the defendant is eighteen years or older, the sentence is completed, and there is no prior conviction for an offense that would carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment or more if committed by an adult
How Much Do Expungements Cost?
The cost and fees of expungements in South Carolina are listed below:
- Non-conviction: there are no fees unless the dismissal is part of plea agreement
- Plea agreement: a $250.00 fee to the solicitor’s office
- Fraudulent check conviction: a $250.00 fee to the solicitor’s office, a $25 fee to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for a background check, and possibly a $35 fee to the clerk of court
- Conditional discharge: a $250.00 fee to the solicitor’s office and possibly a $35 fee to the clerk of court
- First offense conviction: a $250.00 fee to the solicitor’s office, a $25 fee to SLED for the background check, and possibly a $35 fee to the clerk of court
Before applying for an expungement, please consider the following information:
- Filing an application for expungement does not guarantee that the charge will be removed; it is only after there is consent from the Solicitor’s office, SLED, and the appropriate judicial officer that an expungement order will be granted
- The processing fee to the solicitor’s office and SLED is non-refundable regardless of whether the application is granted or denied
- The solicitor’s office will not be able to discuss your eligibility for an expungement
- South Carolina expungements only erase charges and convictions in South Carolina
- You must submit a signed application
Many arrests and convictions cannot be expunged, including traffic offense convictions, Title 56 offenses, felony convictions (excepting first offense convictions for YOA and failure to stop for a blue light), and general sessions convictions. In those situations, another option is to file an application for pardon in South Carolina. A pardon forgives all legal consequences of a conviction.
How Can a South Carolina Expungement Attorney Help?
An attorney is not required to file an application for expungement. However, the process of filing an application for expungements can be confusing and time-consuming. An expungements attorney can file the application for you to ensure that it is done properly.
Our Carolina Defense Lawyers are committed to helping Columbia residents navigate complex legal matters, particularly with the law on expungements. If you need help applying for an expungement of an arrest or conviction from your criminal record in Columbia, contact us to discuss your eligibility during a free and confidential consultation.
Disclaimer: You are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney in any legal matter. If you move forward without an attorney, it may negatively affect your legal rights. If you have questions about your legal rights or the law that affects your case, please consult with an attorney.