How to Expunge Criminal Records in South Carolina

Having a criminal record can create lasting damage to a person’s life. A record makes it difficult to find a job and secure safe housing. It can even make having a personal relationship with someone more complicated.

Fortunately, South Carolina allows certain criminal records to be wiped clean through expungement. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can assist with the process. Talk to Boatright Legal about expunging your record today.

What Is Expungement?

Expungement is a process by which individuals can have certain criminal records removed from public view. Eligible arrests, charges, and convictions can be placed under seal by means of an expungement. This effectively scrubs them from public records, and only a court order can open them back up. Note, however, that even with an expungement, law enforcement can view the records for certain limited purposes.

Expunging criminal records makes it easier to obtain housing, a job, and other opportunities. This gives a person a second chance and allows him or her to turn the page.

Which Cases Qualify for an Expungement?

Not all cases can be expunged. Some specific examples of records that can be expunged include:

  • Not guilty, dismissed, and nolle prossed charges (those that are dismissed but could be re-charged later)
  • Misdemeanor offenses with a maximum sentence of 30 days and/or $1000 fine
  • Crimes that qualify under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA)
  • Passing fraudulent checks
  • Failure to stop for police
  • Victims of human trafficking charged and convicted of human trafficking or prostitution
  • Simple drug possession and possession with intent to distribute
  • Offenses that are eligible for diversion programs

It’s important to stress that not every defendant convicted of the above offenses may receive an expungement. These all have certain terms, qualifications, and conditions that have to be met. If you are not eligible for an expungement, a pardon may be an option. Ask a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney for more information about expungements and pardons.

Steps to Obtain an Expungement

Assuming you meet the necessary criteria, these are the steps involved in obtaining an expungement.

Hire an Attorney

It is strongly advised that you retain a lawyer to help with an expungement. The paperwork and bureaucracy involved can be confusing, and you may need certain documentation. Also, a judge must sign the expungement. Having a lawyer can assist greatly.

Apply for the Expungement

An application will need to be filed in the appropriate Solicitor’s Office. South Carolina has 14 such offices, and you will need to apply to the one with jurisdiction over your case.

Pay the Required Fee

Most dismissed charges are free to expunge. The ones which cost depend on whether a conviction or diversion program was involved. Some or all of the following expungement fees may apply in your case:

  • $250.00 application fee to the Solicitor’s Office
  • $25.00 SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) fee
  • $35.00 Clerk of Court fee

Funds may be available to offset some of the cost of the expungement. Talk to your criminal defense attorney about this.

Having a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney Will Make a Difference

A lawyer can help ensure you qualify for expungement and take care of the paperwork involved. Meanwhile, if you are currently facing criminal charges, retaining legal counsel is imperative. You need the dedicated team at Boatright Legal on your side.

Give us a call today to learn more about expungement and our criminal defense services.