What Is An Expungement?
An expungement is the removal of the record of an arrest or conviction so that the offense no longer appears on a criminal record. Even if the charge(s) were dismissed, nol prossed (not prosecuted), or if an individual was found not guilty, the information about the charge(s) may still appear on the individual’s criminal record unless the individual applies to have the charge(s) expunged.
Not All Convictions Can Be Expunged
- With the exception of a first offense failure to stop for a blue light, traffic convictions CANNOT be expunged.
- Fish and wildlife convictions CANNOT be expunged.
- Convictions for felonies or heinous crimes CANNOT be expunged.
The First Circuit Solicitor’s Office has the authority to expunge records in Calhoun County, Dorchester County, and Orangeburg County only. By law, the expungement of a record is granted in the jurisdiction where that conviction occurred. Additionally, different laws apply in other states and for federal convictions.
What Can Be Expunged?
Only offenses that fit into one of the following eight (8) categories can be expunged:
- Dismissed, no-billed or nol prossed (not prosecuted) charges, and “not guilty” verdicts;
- Charges dismissed after successful completion of the Pre-Trial Intervention (PTI) program, Alcohol Education Program (AEP), or the Traffic Education Program (TEP);
- A first offense misdemeanor conviction for fraudulent check, if there are no additional convictions within one (1) year from the date of conviction;
- A first offense drug possession charge for which a defendant received and complied with a court-ordered conditional discharge;
- A first offense misdemeanor conviction which carries a maximum penalty of thirty (30) days and/or a fine of $500;
- If there are no additional convictions within three (3) years from the date of the conviction.
- For a first offense domestic violence conviction, the individual must have no other convictions within five (5) years from the date of the conviction.
- Convictions under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA);
- Must have no other convictions within five (5) years after the completion of the YOA sentence (to include probation and parole).
- A first offense misdemeanor conviction for failure to stop for a blue light if there are no additional convictions within three (3) years after the date of the conviction;
- Eligible juvenile offenses;
- May apply once the offender is seventeen (17) 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 (5) years or more if committed by an adult.
- The granting of the expungement is at the discretion of the court.
How Do I Get An Expungement?
It is not necessary to hire an attorney for an expungement. You may apply for an expungement, in person, at the office located in the county in which you were charged or arrested. You will be required to complete an expungement application. This application may be downloaded here and completed prior to applying. You must also have certified copies of your disposition(s) for the charge(s) in which you are trying to expunge. These dispositions are maintained by the Magistrate Court or Municipal Court you attented or Clerk of Court in the respective county. If you are applying for an expungement and you are out-of-state, you will need to fill out the application, obtain the appropriate court documents, and mail these to the appropriate office address.
When Are Expungements Handled?
Expungements are only handled on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM and from 1:00 PM to 4:30 PM.
How Much Does It Cost?
There are fees associated with an expungement except when charges are dismissed or nol prossed (not prosecuted) or when a person is found not guilty. In those cases, the expungement is free unless charges are dismissed in plea negotiations. Otherwise, the following fees may apply:
$250.00 – Solicitor’s Office (Administrative Fee)
$35.00 – Clerk of Court (Filing Fee)
$25.00 – South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (Verification Fee)
These three fees are paid to different agencies. A separate certified check or money order is required for each fee.
Many convictions cannot be expunged. There is another option.
A pardon is the state’s forgiveness of a person for all of the legal consequences of a crime. It does not remove the conviction from a criminal record. However, the conviction is noted as “pardoned.” Some employers may consider a job applicant if the applicant’s convictions have been pardoned.
To be eligible, a person must have completed their sentence, including probation, or if on parole, have completed at least five (5) years under supervision. All restitution and fees must have been paid.
Pardons are not handled by the Solicitor’s Office. Pardons are granted through the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPP).
No attorney is required for a pardon.
For additional information on pardons, you may visit the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services website here.