An expungement removes a prior charge from one’s record. In certain situations, the law of South Carolina affords you the right to have a prior charge removed or expunged. This article attempts to explain what charges may qualify to be expunged as well as which charges do not qualify.
Criminal Charges In Which The Defendant Was Found Not Guilty Or In Which The Charges Were Dismissed
If you were charged with a crime that you were found not guilty of or if the charge was dismissed, you are eligible for an expungment at no cost. If your case was in a Magistrate or Municipal Court, which generally means it is not a felony, after June 2, 2009 the Court will expunge your case automatically. If you were charged prior to June 2, 2009 and the charge was dismissed or you were found not guilty, you or your lawyer can apply directly to the Court for an expungement.
Exception To The Rule
If you were charged with a crime under title 50 (the South Carolina Code which concerns Fish, Game, and Watercraft, or with a traffic violation, or for violating a county or municipal ordinance) and you were not fingerprinted at the time of arrest, the Court has the discretion as to whether they will expunge the charge.
Charges That Can Qualify For Expungements
If you successfully complete one of the following programs in connection with the relevant crime or you were charged with a crime as stated below, you may be eligible for an expungement.
PTI (pre-trial intervention);
An Alcohol Education Program;
Traffic Education Program;
Non-violent Juvenile Offenses;
1st Offense Misdemeanor Fraudulent Check;
Conditional discharge for simple possession of marijuana or hashish;
1st Offense Conviction in Magistrate Court;
Youthful Offender Act (1st Offense for Defendants between 17-24, no other conviction for 5 years after completion of sentence, the original offense was non-violent misdemeanor, Class D, E, F felony or a Felony with a maximum term of 15 years imprisonment);
1st Offense Failure to Stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle;
and soon one with a possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance may apply for an expungement twenty years from the date of the completion of any sentence, including probation and parole, for a drug conviction or any felony conviction may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction and any associated bench warrant.
Some Criminal Records Destruction;
Any other statutory authorization;
your charge can be expunged.
If You Qualify For An Expungement
I recommend you seek the advice of a criminal defense lawyer in the County in which you are seeking an expungement. If the charge is not a magistrate or municipal charge as outlined above then you and your lawyer should fill out the application for expungement for that specific County.
The administrative fee paid to the Solicitor’s Office is $250, a $25 fee is paid to SLED, and a $35 filing fee is paid to the Clerk of Court. The fees must be paid by separate money orders and refunds are not granted. SLED, the Solicitor’s Office and a Circuit Court Judge must all approve the expungement.
If you are not eligible for an expungement you may qualify for a pardon. A pardon, in short, reinstates your rights as a citizen so you can vote, resume a licensed profession, carry a gun, hold public office, etc. and the pardon ends your penalty. To learn more about pardons go to the South Carolina Bar website or click http://www.dppps.sc.gov/apply_for_a_pardon.html to download the pardon application.
Alex Kornfeld is a criminal defense lawyer in Greenville, South Carolina. He primarily practices law in the area of criminal defense, family law, and small business law. You can contact him at 864-335-9990 or firstname.lastname@example.org This article is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice or the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
South Carolina Code Section 22-5-910; 17-22-910