In South Carolina, your criminal record may be expunged -- that is, erased or sealed -- under the circumstances described below. If your record is expunged, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers. In most cases, you may say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.
If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime
Your arrest record and related evidence may be eligible for expungement if:
- the charges against you were discharged or dismissed, or
- you were found not guilty.
(South Carolina Statutes § 17-1-40.)
If You Were Convicted of a Crime
Successful completion of pre-trial intervention. If you were a first-time offender and you were not convicted of a violent crime, you may have been assigned to a pre-trial intervention program. After successfully completing the program, you may apply to have the related criminal record expunged. (South Carolina Statutes § 17-22-150.)
First-offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than 30 days imprisonment or a fine of $500, or both. If you were a first offender and there are no other criminal proceedings against you, you may apply to have your record expunged after waiting three years from the date of your conviction. However, the following offenses do not qualify:
- motor vehicle offenses
- certain violations concerning fish, game, and watercraft, or
- domestic violence offenses.
You are allowed only one expungement under this law.
(South Carolina Statutes § 22-5-910.)
First-offense conviction for the simple possession of marijuana. If you were sentenced to a “conditional discharge,” you may apply to have the related record expunged after successfully completing your sentence. (South Carolina Code § 44-53-450.)
First-offense conviction for fraudulent checks. If you were a first offender and there are no other criminal proceedings against you, you may apply to have your record expunged after waiting one year from the date of your conviction. You are allowed only one expungement under this law. Felony check offenses are not eligible. (South Carolina Code § 34-11-90.)
How to File
For forms and information, contact the Solicitor’s Office in the South Carolina judicial district where the arrest or offense occurred.
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in South Carolina -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.