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Second Chances: How to Get Charges Removed from Your Record

Having a criminal offense on your record in South Carolina can be a hurdle in many aspects of one’s life, no matter how serious or how long ago the charges took place. Potential employers can see your whole record when they do a background check, and having criminal offenses can negatively impact your hiring potential. Getting admitted into school or getting a professional license may be more difficult for you.
The good news is that for certain situations, the state actually allows your record to be expunged, or wiped completely clean—but has very specific and strict guidelines for doing so. Let’s examine the circumstances in which one can get their charges removed and start over with a clean slate.
Is Your Record Truly Clean?
South Carolina offers the option of expungement for certain situations, which means that your charges are completely erased from your record—almost as if the offense never happened. When you apply for a job in the future, your background check will come out clean and you can check the box that indicates you have not been charged with a crime on your paperwork.
If this sounds like a dream come true, it is for some individuals. Those who have had a hard time gaining employment or securing housing can truly benefit from an expungement. Yet not everyone is eligible and the process isn’t easy.
What Can Be Removed And How
Different types of crimes have varying waiting periods for expungement, and a detailed list of crimes and timelines are available online and from our firm Some of the more common offenses and waiting periods are outlined here:

  • An arrest with no conviction can be expunged immediately at no cost.
  • First offense domestic violence 3rd degree conviction requires a five year waiting period.
  • A minor conviction with a maximum penalty of  less than 30 days in jail can be expunged after three years.
  • A drug possession can be expunged if it was entered as a conditional discharge and all conditions have been met.
  • A person under the age of 25 at the time of sentencing can qualify for expungement five years from the end of the sentence if the sentence was pursuant to the Youthful Offender Act

Once you are aware if your crime can be expunged, your next step is to file a request at either the municipal or magistrate court for non-convictions, or the county in which you were charged for crimes that carried a conviction.
Getting charges removed from your record isn’t free, as some instances will require you to pay fees of up to $300. Once your paperwork has been processed at a local level, it will be reviewed by a circuit judge who will either approve or deny the request.
When Expungement Isn’t An Option
If your situation determines that you can’t get your records completely expunged but you would still like them to be modified somehow, South Carolina does sometimes offer a pardon. In this case, your record would still reflect your crime, but the pardon would end your punishment and restore your rights as a citizen.
The Greg McCollum Complete Legal Defense Team should be your first call if you’re looking to get charges removed from your record. Our staff can help every step of the way to make sure your record is clean and can help you overcome the challenges your criminal record has presented.

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