Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in South Carolina

In South Carolina, your criminal record may be expunged—that is, erased or sealed—under certain circumstances. If your record is expunged, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers.

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 Code § 17-1-40 (2018).)

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 Code § 17-22-150 (2018).)

First-offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than 30 days imprisonment or a fine of $1,000, 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. There is a five-year waiting period for domestic violence offenses and a three-year waiting period for other offenses. However, motor vehicle offenses do not qualify. You are allowed only one expungement under this law. (South Carolina Code § 22-5-910 (2018).)

First-offense conviction for the simple possession of a controlled substance. If you were sentenced to a “conditional discharge” for possession of a controlled substance, you may apply to have the related record expunged after successfully completing your sentence. (South Carolina Code § 44-53-450 (2018).)

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 (2018).)

First-offense conviction for failure to stop for law enforcement. If you were a first offender, you may apply to have your record expunged after waiting three years from the date of your conviction. You must have had no other convictions during that time, and you are allowed only one expungement under this law. Failure-to-stop offenses that are classified as felonies are not eligible. (South Carolina Code § 56-5-750 (2018).)

Conviction or a nonviolent offense if you were under the age of 25 at the time of the crime. If you were sentenced to probation or treatment for one of the nonviolent offenses specified in the statute, you may apply to have the related record expunged after waiting five years from the date of your conviction. In order to be eligible, you must have no other convictions on your record. However, the following offenses do not qualify:

You are allowed only one expungement under the law. (South Carolina Code §§ 22-5-920, 24-19-10, and 24-19-50 (2018).)

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.

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