A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Your Record Cleared

Expunging your criminal record is not necessarily something that happens automatically, even if cleared of the crime. That’s why it is important to hire a professional criminal defense attorney who will ensure this happens after successfully defending their client.

Making sure a person’s record is cleared after an arrest is extremely important. If this isn’t done (even if the person was found not guilty, or wasn’t even convicted) the person may find that this negatively impacts their future. If a potential new employer was to do a background check, for example, any blemish on a person’s record could reflect negatively on them and influence the employer’s decision to hire them.

What is an Expungement in South Carolina?

If the court orders expungement, it means that state agencies must destroy the records they have against that specific individual.

All agencies involved, including municipal, county, or state law enforcement organizations, are then obliged to destroy the arrest and booking record, in addition to any other files, mug shots, and fingerprints. Any information that pertains to that individual to a particular crime must be destroyed, permanently erasing all evidence that the individual was charged with any crime.

So how can you get your record cleared in South Carolina? Here is a step-by-step guide.

  1. Determine your record

A person can check their criminal record online at the South Carolina Law Enforcement’s Criminal Records Check page, though they must pay a $25 fee before they can see it. If a person believes they have criminal charges on their record that could be expunged, they should seek advice from an experienced law firm who will analyze the information to help ascertain whether this is possible.

  1. Understand if you are eligible

You can only expunge your record if you are:

  • Not currently serving a sentence.
  • Not on probation or parole.
  • Not being currently charged with a crime.

You must also have paid all court fines and fees associated with the charge. In South Carolina, some charges can and can’t be expunged from a record. The charges that are eligible include:

  • Charges that were dismissed or where the person was found not guilty of the crime.
  • Convictions for fraudulent checks if it is the first offense
  • When a charge of simple possession for marijuana is resolved by conditional discharge.
  • Failure to stop for a law enforcement vehicle if it is the first offense
  • If the convictions take place in a municipal or magistrate’s court and the defendant has no subsequent charges for three years (barring criminal domestic violence charges in which case the defendant must have no subsequent charges for five years).
  • Charges resolved because the individual completed a pre-trial intervention (PTI) or alcohol education program (AEP).
  • Offenses where the defendant was convicted under the age of 25 years old (though this depends on the nature of the crime).

The charges that are not eligible include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI) charges or driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC).
  • Motor vehicle violations.
  • Hunting, fishing, and gaming charges.
  • More serious criminal charges such as those involving severe violence.
  1. Gather the information

To apply for expungement you need specific information:

  • The name of the court where you were convicted.
  • Your name (or the name you were convicted under).
  • The case number.
  • The section number as well as the code of violation.
  • The date of your conviction.
  • Where you got probation and whether you were charged with an additional offense during probation.
  1. Fill out and submit your petition

Filling out your petition can be confusing, and hiring an experienced attorney to help you is advisable. They can also ensure you complete and serve your petition to the district and prosecuting attorney if necessary.

If a charge cannot be expunged are there any alternatives?

It is possible that a person whose charges cannot be cleared from their record may be able to obtain a pardon. Doing so requires attending a hearing before the Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole Services. Of course, there are no guarantees that you will be pardoned, and hiring an attorney to help determine whether it is worth your while going down this route is advisable.

The Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team has been able to help so many of our clients expunge their criminal records in South Carolina. So if you are hoping to clear your criminal history, get in touch with our experienced, qualified team at (843) 321-4968 today!