Securing An Expungement or Pardon in South Carolina
What is an Expungement?
Generally, when you are convicted of a crime, that record may follow you forever. Even if you have served your sentence or paid your fine, the lasting implications of a criminal record can follow you forever effecting you personally as well as professionally.
However, South Carolina law allows for some convictions to be removed from your record through an expungement, which is an order for the destruction of records relating to an arrest and/or conviction. Our criminal defense attorneys can advise you as to whether you are eligible for an expungement.
Ensuring that your criminal record is an accurate reflection of your criminal history helps you avoid the risk of being turned down for a job simply because you were arrested or suspected of illegal activity.
Four Harsh Truths About Your Criminal Record
1. An arrest does not mean being dragged off in handcuffs. If an officer takes your fingerprints, you will have a record. An arrest also occurs when you are given a ticket.
2. Courts do find people guilty who have never appeared before a judge. You can be found guilty, forfeit your bond, and never go to court.
3. A record includes both an arrest and the court disposition.
4. You are responsible for ensuring that your criminal record is correct.
How to get an Expungement
1. Check your Criminal Record to ensure it is correct.
2. You need a copy of your warrant number, arrest date, and case disposition. (some rap sheets have it all).
3. You may need a disposition from the local Judge.
4. All expungements, unless otherwise provided above, cost $250, made payable to the Solicitor’s Office in the county where you were charged and/or convicted.
5. These items must be taken to the Expungement office in the Solicitor’s Office in the county where you were charged and/or convicted.
6. The Solicitor’s Office will fill out the orders/forms and guide you through the process.
7. You must file your order with the Clerk of Court.
8. There is an additional $35 fee to the Clerk of Court for all expungements of convictions. There is no charge for non-convictions.
9. You must send a legal copy of the expungement order to SLED for a clean record. SLED will also forward the information to the FBI.
10. SLED charges a $25 fee for processing the order, except for non-convictions.
11. Once State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has received your order for expungement, it will take 2 to 3 weeks to remove your charge. It normally takes about 4 weeks from the start of the expungement process until your record is clean.
Will an expungement order ever be granted automatically?
If you are a defendant in summary court and you are found not guilty, the Judge will automatically prepare an expungement order for you at no cost to you.
Will the administrative fees be waived under any circumstances?
If you are charged in General sessions court and your charge is dismissed, the prosecution decides not to try the case, nolle prossed, or you are found not guilty, the $250 expungement fee will not apply. However, if the charge is dismissed as a result of a plea agreement, the $250 Administrative fee will apply.
What do I do if I have questions about my record?
You may request a copy of your criminal record from SLED for a fee.
What Alternatives Are Available For Me If I Am Not Eligible For An Expungement?
If you are not eligible to have a particular arrest or record expunged, you may be entitled to a pardon. A pardon mitigates or sets aside punishment for a crime and restores the rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense. Receiving a pardon can be an extensive procedure involving applications and hearings.
Strom Law Firm, LLC has experienced attorneys familiar with the system who will fight on your behalf to have your rights restored. Whether you are eligible for an expungement or need to request a pardon, contact the Strom Law Firm, LLC today for a free consultation to see how we can help. We offer flexible payment options and accept Visa and Mastercard.