A Brief Guide to the Career Impacts of a Misdemeanor Conviction in South Carolina

A far too common misconception about criminal law is that a misdemeanor is not a big deal, or that it does not have any lasting effects beyond the penalty or sentence for the crime itself. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case, as we’ve discussed in a previous blog titled There’s Nothing Minor About a Misdemeanor, which you can read here.

A misdemeanor has the potential to haunt you for years after you’ve served your court-ordered punishment, and in fact can have very similar collateral consequences to a felony. Collateral consequences are the lasting impacts and ramifications of a criminal conviction after the sentence has been served, such as an inability to get a loan or housing due to your criminal record.

One of the most common fears regarding criminal convictions is how it will impact one’s career, however most people do not realize that a misdemeanor without any jail time has the potential to be just as devastating to one’s career prospects as a felony where the defendant was required to spend time in a correctional facility.

Firstly, you have to keep in mind that a misdemeanor is public record—which means the court records are accessible by anyone. And under some circumstances, it can be even more difficult to expunge or seal a misdemeanor record than it would be for a felonious crime.

What this means for your career is, any potential employer who looks (and most do) can see that you have a criminal record—misdemeanor or otherwise—and this is often all they need to strike your name from the list of candidates for an open position. The misdemeanor could also affect your ability to get the education you need to work in the field or position you desire. Colleges and other educational programs may decline your application if they find you have a criminal record.

In addition to these collateral consequences, there are numerous jobs and careers in the State of South Carolina that are specifically impacted by misdemeanors by legal statutes. Consequences range from being forced to disclose your misdemeanor to clients or employers, to a disqualification from receiving specific licenses and certifications, to actually losing your job as a direct result of the conviction.

Below, we’ve detailed some, but not all, of the specific careers and their mandatory repercussions when a misdemeanor conviction occurs:

Politician — Permanently removed from office for any misdemeanor conviction

Attorney/All court-certified specialists — Must disclose conviction on Annual Certified Specialist Statement

Dentist — Out-of-state licensee is ineligible for dentist license by credentials

Child Care Professional — Must notify Dept. of Social Services of conviction

Nursing Home/Residential Care Admin — Denial of licensure

Marriage & Family Therapist — Must notify all appropriate agencies of conviction, such as licensure Board

Dry-Cleaner — Suspend or revoke certification

There are even more statutes in South Carolina that dictate discretionary consequences for misdemeanor convictions, meaning the consequences may or may not be imposed depending on the circumstances. Generally, any career that requires licensure or certification will be subject to discretionary denial of the license due to any misdemeanor offense. Some of the careers and the potential ramifications include, but are not limited to:

Judge — Suspended or removed from office

Attorney — Denial of specialty certification for estate planning, bankruptcy, probate, or tax law

Nuclear Power Plant — Ineligible to work at nuclear power plants or storage facilities

Law Enforcement — Ineligible to serve in law enforcement

Non Profit Director — Denial of corporate indemnification in liability proceeding

Business Owner/CEO — Ineligible for corporate indemnification in liability proceeding

Engineer / Surveyor — Deny, suspend, or revoke licensure

Finance — Deny, suspend, revoke, or limit authority to sell securities

Cosmetology — Denial of licensure

Embalmer/Funeral Director — Denial of licensure

Certified Public Accountant — Denial of licensure

Optometrist — Denial of licensure

Architect — Denial of licensure

What these statutory consequences should demonstrate is that, if you are ever charged with a misdemeanor in South Carolina, you should certainly think twice before pleading guilty. It is vital that you enlist the services of an experienced and effective defense attorney like those at the Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team, otherwise you are probably putting your future career prospects in serious jeopardy. Please give us a call today.