If you were arrested in South Carolina, you might want to remove the charges from the criminal record. Not all charges are able to be expunged, but if you are eligible, doing so can reduce difficulties in finding housing or a job.
Expungement, similar to pardoning, can help to leave arrests in the past. For more in-depth information, check out the SC Judicial Department’s guide.
Here’s how to get started clearing your criminal record in South Carolina.
What is expungement?
If your case was dismissed or you were found not guilty of charges, the information still stays on your criminal record indefinitely. During this time, the charges would appear on background checks. Expungement is the removal of an arrest or conviction from the legal records.
Expungement doesn’t erase information found outside of legal records, such as news outlets, social media, or Google.
Am I eligible?
If this was your first offense in a municipal or small claims court (magistrate).
If your case was dismissed or you weren’t convicted.
If you completed a pre-trial intervention, alcohol education or traffic education program.
The amount of time you have to wait before applying and the cost depends on the type of charges. For more information on eligibility, see the SC Judicial Department’s guide.
Who isn’t eligible?
People charged with felonies, heinous crimes, federal crimes and almost all traffic convictions cannot apply for expungement in South Carolina.
How do I start?
You need to apply for expungement in the area where you were arrested or convicted, whether state, county or municipal. You should contact the courthouse for an application.
Where can I find help?
Ask the courthouse you dealt with initially or consult an attorney. To see if you’re eligible for free legal services based on your income, call the Legal Aid Telephone Intake Service at 1-888-346-5592.