Expungements in SC are available for many minor convictions, dismissals, and acquittals.
What is an expungement?
An expungement is when all records of your arrest, prosecution, conviction, dismissal, or acquittal are destroyed – including records from the jail, the police department, the solicitor’s office, SLED, and the clerk’s office.
Below, we’ll take a look at the different types of convictions that can be expunged under SC’s current expungement laws, including:
- Drug offenses,
- Pretrial diversion programs,
- Some types of convictions in the magistrate or municipal courts,
- Convictions under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA), and
- Records of dismissals or acquittals.
What Crimes Can Be Expunged in SC?
Expungements in SC are possible whenever a charge is dismissed or the person is acquitted, and there are many types of first-offense or minor convictions that can be expunged – we’ll go through the different types of expungements that are possible in SC below.
Expungements of Dismissals or Acquittals
If your case was dismissed by the prosecutor or by a judge, or if you were acquitted by a judge or jury after trial, all records of your arrest and prosecution can be expunged.
Expungements in SC After Completing Pretrial Diversion
If you complete a pretrial diversion program, your record can be expunged. This includes:
- Pretrial intervention (PTI) (17-22-150(a)),
- Alcohol Education Program (AEP) (17-22-530(a)),
- Traffic Education Program (TEP) (17-22-330(a)),
- Conditional discharge (44-53-450(B)), and
- Drug Court.
Expungements in SC – Misdemeanor Convictions
Some misdemeanor convictions in the magistrate or municipal courts can be expunged as well. For example:
- Convictions that carry a penalty of 30 days or less can be expunged after three years if there are no additional convictions in the three-year period (22-5-910(A)),
- Convictions for domestic violence third degree can be expunged after five years if there are no additional convictions during the five-year period (22-5-910(B)), and
- Convictions for fraudulent checks can be expunged after one year if there are no additional convictions during the one-year period (34-11-90(e)),
YOA Expungements in SC
Convictions under SC’s Youthful Offender Act (YOA) can be expunged five years after completion of the sentence if there are no additional convictions during the service of the sentence or the five-year period (22-5-920).
The conviction must be under the YOA – under SC’s old expungement laws, the SC Supreme Court allowed expungement if a person was eligible for a YOA sentence, but the legislature has amended the law to clarify that the person must have been sentenced under the YOA.
YOA expungements are not available for violent offenses or traffic offenses.
Expungements of Drug Convictions in SC
Since the 2018 amendments to SC’s expungement laws, you can get minor drug offenses expunged under SC Code Section 22-5-930 including:
- First offense simple possession of any type of drug three years after the conviction if there are no additional convictions during the three-year period,
- First offense possession of prescription drugs three years after the conviction if there are no additional convictions during the three-year period, and
- First offense possession with intent to distribute (PWID) twenty years after the conviction if there are no drug convictions or felony offenses during the twenty-year period.
How Do You Get an Expungement in SC?
Expungements in SC may be processed through the solicitor’s office in the county where the person was charged, through the magistrate or municipal court where the person was charged, or through the pretrial diversion program that a person completed, depending on the type of case and whether the expungement is a conviction, dismissal, or acquittal.
Do I need an attorney to get an expungement in SC?
You can get an expungement on your own by contacting the appropriate office to begin the process, but many people retain an expungement attorney because:
- Your expungement lawyer can help you to determine whether you are entitled to an expungement,
- The process can be confusing and intimidating, and
- Your expungement lawyer will follow through to ensure that your expungement order is signed, correct, and forwarded to all agencies that have any record of your arrest and prosecution.
How Can an Expungement Lawyer in Charleston, SC Help?
Your Charleston, SC expungement attorney will:
- Review your criminal history to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement in SC,
- Complete the required forms and submit them to the appropriate office, court, or solicitor’s office,
- Monitor your expungement form as it is forwarded for signature from the solicitor’s office to SLED and then the appropriate judge in your county of conviction, and
- Ensure that your expungement order is forwarded to all agencies that have records of your arrest and prosecution.
Your expungement lawyer in Charleston can help you to get your record expunged in any SC county, and, in most cases, your expungement process will not require any court appearances.
Where Do I Go to Get My Record Expunged?
The office or court that handles your expungement will depend on the type of case, the location of the case, and whether it was a conviction, dismissal, or acquittal.
Note that, except for dismissals or acquittals in the magistrate or municipal courts, expungements are not automatic, and you must complete an application and pay any applicable fees before the process begins.
Convictions in General Sessions Court
Expungements of convictions in General Sessions Court are processed through the solicitor’s office for the county where you were convicted.
Convictions in Magistrate or Municipal Court
Convictions in the magistrate or municipal courts are also expunged through the solicitor’s office for the county of conviction.
Dismissals or Acquittals in General Sessions Court
When a case is dismissed or there is an acquittal in General Sessions Court, the expungement is processed through the solicitor’s office for the county where the person was charged – it is not automatic, and an application must be submitted.
Dismissals or Acquittals in Magistrate or Municipal Court
When a case is dismissed or there is an acquittal in the magistrate or municipal courts, the expungement should be automatically processed by the court where the case was pending.
In some cases, some lower courts are not processing expungements as required by SC law – if your case has been dismissed or you were acquitted at trial and your record is still appearing on the public index or on a SLED check, contact an expungement lawyer to help you get your record expunged.
Dismissals After Completion of a Pretrial Diversion Program
If your case has been dismissed after the completion of a pretrial diversion program, your expungement must be processed through the court or office that dismissed your case:
- PTI, AEP, or TEP: the solicitor’s PTI office,
- Conditional discharge: the court that granted the conditional discharge (if magistrate or municipal court) or the solicitor’s office (if General Sessions Court), and
- Drug Court: the Drug Court Program.
The expungement is not automatic, and the program may require you to pay additional fees to expunge your record after your case is dismissed.
Can Traffic Offenses Be Expunged in SC?
Generally, traffic offenses cannot be expunged in SC. There are exceptions including:
- Expungements after completion of the Traffic Education Program (TEP),
- Failure to stop for a blue light where no death or bodily injury resulted can be expunged three years after completion of the sentence if there are no other convictions within the three-year period (56-5-750(f)), and
- Reckless driving offenses can be sent to the PTI program and expunged after successful completion of the program.
Can DUI Offenses be Expunged in SC?
DUI convictions, like most traffic offenses, cannot be expunged. In their discretion, however, the solicitor’s office can rewrite a DUI offense to a reckless driving ticket and send it to the PTI program before trial.
Questions About Expungements in SC?
The SC expungement lawyers at the Boles Law Firm can help you to determine whether you are eligible for an expungement, file the paperwork on your behalf, and follow through to ensure that your record is destroyed.
Call us at 843-576-5775 to schedule an appointment for a free consultation at our North Charleston or Walterboro offices or send us a message through our website.