Expungement is the removal of the record of an arrest or conviction so that the offense no longer appears on a criminal record or rap sheet. Even if the charges were dismissed, nolle prossed (not prosecuted), or if a person is found not guilty, the information about the charges still appear on the criminal history unless the individual applies to have them expunged.
Not all convictions can be expunged.
Traffic convictions CANNOT be expunged with the exception of first-time failure to stop for a blue light.
Convictions for felonies or heinous crimes CANNOT be expunged.
The law in South Carolina allows for expungement in the following cases:
Dismissal or non-conviction of an offense | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 17-1-40, the arrest and booking record, files, photographs and fingerprints of anyone who has been charged but whose case has been dismissed, discharged, or resolved by a finding of not guilty, shall be destroyed. No traces of the charge shall be kept by any agency, whether municipal, county or state law enforcement.
Note: If a charge was dismissed or nolle prossed, or if you were found not guilty in a Summary Court (Municipal Court or Magistrate Court), then you must contact the applicable Summary Court to request expungement.
First Offense Convictions in a Magistrate or Municipal Court | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 22-5-910, for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty (30) days imprisonment or one thousand ($1,000.00) dollars, or both, a person may apply after three years providing the person has had no other conviction(s) within three years from the date of the conviction. A conviction of third-offense domestic violence is a five-year waiting period after the date of conviction.
Successful Completion of a Pretrial Invention Program | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 17-22-150, an offender who has completed a Pretrial Intervention program is allowed to apply to have the charge expunged. Pretrial Intervention is a program whereby first-time, non-violent criminal offenders are allowed to perform certain actions instead of going to court for a formal trial. Such possible actions include making monetary payments as restitution to the victims of their crimes or performing some specified services as community restitution.
Alcohol Education Program charges are dismissed by the Solicitor upon successful completion of the program.
Traffic Education Program charges are dismissed upon completion of the program.
An expungement does not occur automatically on the above charges, after completion of the programs, the participant will be given an application to request the expungement of the above related charges.
Fraudulent Checks (First Offense) | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 34-11-90(e), a person who has been convicted of writing a bad check with fraudulent intent, is allowed to apply (or have someone else apply) to the court for an order expunging the record of that conviction after one (1) year from the date of the conviction. This applies if the person has had no other conviction(s) within the one (1) year period. This provision does not apply to a felony charge, that is, one that involves an amount more than $5,000. This is a one-time opportunity for any qualified person.
Simple Possession of Marijuana (First Offense) | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 44-53-450(b), anyone who has been sentenced to Conditional Discharge for the first offense of a simple possession of marijuana can apply to the court for an expungement of the record in the case, if the conditions of the Conditional Discharge have been met. If the order is granted, then the person need not ever refer to the charge again.
Youthful Offender (First Offense) | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 22-5-920, a person may apply for an expungement if they were convicted in the Court of General Sessions while under the age of 25 and of a non-violent crime, and received no other conviction(s) during a five (5) year period following the completion of the sentence, which includes probation and parole. This only applies to charges received under one incident.
Failure to Stop a Motor Vehicle (First Offense) | According to South Carolina Code of Laws 56-5-750(f), a person may apply for an expungement if the offense does not involve bodily injury and the defendant had no other conviction(s) during a three (3) year period following the completion of all requirements of the sentence.
Pardons | Many convictions cannot be expunged, but there is another option. A pardon is the State’s forgiveness of a person for all of the legal consequences of a crime. It does not remove the conviction from the criminal record. However, the conviction is noted as “pardoned.” Some employers may consider a job applicant if the applicant’s convictions have been pardoned. To be eligible, a person must have completed the sentence, including probation or if on parole they must have completed at least five (5) years under supervision; and all restitution and fees must be paid.
Pardons are not handled by the Solicitor’s Office. Pardons are granted through the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. They can be reached at 803-734-9220 or to learn more online go to www.dppps.sc.gov.
Juvenile Cases | All juvenile expungements are handled at the Horry County Solicitor’s Office. You must contact the office to check your eligibility.
The 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office cannot expunge any information that the media releases, any information provided by a private agency, or information on the internet or released by a third party agency.