Having a criminal record can make life challenging, from finding employment to securing housing. Fortunately, South Carolina law allows for expungement of certain criminal records. Expungement can give individuals a fresh start and a chance to move forward without the stigma of a criminal record.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the process of erasing or sealing an offense so it no longer shows on someone’s criminal record, offering individuals the opportunity to move forward without the burden of past mistakes. The eligibility for expungement varies based on the nature of the offense, the sentence served, and the time that has passed since the completion of the sentence.
If you’re looking to have an offense expunged from your record in South Carolina, you must apply to the solicitor in the circuit where the offense was committed. The following fees must be paid with separate checks or money orders when applying for expungement:
- A non-refundable administrative fee of $250.00 made payable to the solicitor
- A non-refundable SLED verification fee of $25.00 made payable to SLED, when applicable
- A filing fee of $35.00 made payable to the county clerk of court, when applicable.
Once you’ve paid your fees, the solicitor will send your application to SLED so that they can verify that the offense is eligible for expungement. Once verified, they will return your application to the solicitor to obtain any necessary signatures, and then the order will be signed by the circuit court judge and filed by the solicitor with the clerk of court.
Expungement Categories in South Carolina
Only offenses that fit into one of the following categories can be expunged:
- Dismissed or Not Prosecuted Charges: Charges that have been dismissed, no-billed, or nol prossed, and cases resulting in a “not guilty” verdict.
- Program Completion Dismissals: Charges dismissed after the successful completion of the Pretrial Intervention (PTI), the Alcohol Education (AEP), or the Traffic Education (TEP) Program.
- First Offense Fraudulent Check Convictions: A first-offense misdemeanor conviction for a fraudulent check, provided there are no additional convictions within one year from the date of conviction.
- First Offense Drug Possession Charges: A first-offense drug possession charge where the defendant received and complied with a court-ordered conditional discharge.
- Misdemeanors with Specific Criteria: A first-offense misdemeanor conviction with a maximum penalty of 30 days and/or a fine of $1,000. Eligibility criteria include:
- No additional convictions within three years from the date of conviction.
- For a first-offense criminal domestic violence conviction, no other convictions within five years from the date of conviction.
- Youthful Offender Act (YOA) Convictions: Convictions under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA) for certain non-violent offenses committed by individuals under the age of 25. Conditions for eligibility include:
- No other convictions within five years after the completion of the YOA sentence, including probation and parole.
- First Offense Failure to Stop for a Blue Light: A first offense misdemeanor conviction for failure to stop for a blue light, with no additional convictions within three (3) years after the date of the conviction.
- Eligible Juvenile Offenses:
- May apply once the offender is 18 years of age.
- The juvenile sentence has been completed, and there are no additional charges.
- The juvenile offense was a status or non-violent offense.
- No prior juvenile adjudications that would carry a maximum sentence of five years or more if committed by an adult.
The granting of expungement is at the court’s discretion.
Let SeiferFlatow Guide You Through the Process
Navigating the legal intricacies of expungement in South Carolina requires experienced legal guidance. If you’re unsure about your eligibility or need assistance with the expungement process, contact the criminal law team at SeiferFlatow for expert guidance tailored to your situation. We’re here to help you take the necessary steps towards a clean record and a fresh start. Contact our South Carolina office to explore your expungement options and take the first step toward a fresh start.