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Can I Expunge My Criminal Record in South Carolina? Charleston Criminal Lawyer


Charleston Criminal Record Expungement Lawyer | Charleston Criminal Record Expungement Attorney

Can I Expunge My Criminal Record in South Carolina? Charleston Criminal Lawyer

Our criminal defense lawyers in Charleston, South Carolina often get asked about expungement of criminal records. Whenever we successfully defend someone accused of a crime, we follow up by having our client’s record expunged. However, many times we get calls from persons whose previous criminal lawyer didn’t tie up that loose end.

Expunging your criminal record is important even if you were never convicted of a crime. Essentially, any arrest, even those that result in a “not guilty,” “non-conviction,” or “nolle prosse,” can still have a negative impact such as when a potential employer does a background check on you. Also, criminal convictions often carry greater consequences that may haunt people for their entire lives. So, for the benefit of all of those who want to keep their record “clean,” here is an overview of expungement of criminal records in South Carolina.

What is an Expungement?

An expungement is a court order that commands state agencies to destroy records. After an expungement order is signed by a judge and circulated to the appropriate agencies, any municipal, county, or state law enforcement agency must destroy the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person charged. There are some exceptions to this rule, but, generally, an expungement erases all evidence of the charge. The FBI will still have a record, but the FBI’s database is only accessible to a very limited number of people and is not an issue for most people.

What Can Be Expunged?

The following charges are eligible for expungement in South Carolina:

  • Any charge that was dismissed or where the defendant was found not guilty is eligible for expungement.
  • First offense convictions for fraudulent check (bad check) charges are eligible for expungement.
  • If a simple possession of marijuana charge is resolved by conditional discharge it is eligible for expungement.
  • First offense for failure to stop for a law enforcement vehicle after being signaled to do so may be expungeable.
  • First offense convictions in municipal or magistrate’s court if the defendant has no other convictions for 3 years, except for criminal domestic violence, where the defendant must have no other convictions for 5 years, are eligible for expungement.
  • Charges resolved by successful completion of pre-trial intervention (PTI) or the alcohol education program (AEP) are expungeable.
  • Certain offenses where the defendant was convicted when he or she was less than 25 years old are potentially expungeable.

What Can’t Be Expunged?

The following are criminal charges that aren’t eligible for expungement:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving with an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC)
  • Motor vehicle violations
  • Most hunting, fishing, and gaming charges
  • Many very serious crimes, such as violent crimes and murder

How Can I Check My Criminal Record in South Carolina?

If you’ve been arrested before and you’re curious as to what’s on your criminal record in South Carolina, you can check it online by visiting the South Carolina Law Enforcement’s Criminal Records Check Page. The cost is $25, and the process is a simple as entering your name and your birthdate.

If My Charge Can’t Be Expunged, Do I Have Other Options?

Yes.  Even if a charge can’t be expungeade, you may be eligible for a pardon. Many people mistakenly believe that a pardon requires some connection to the governor, but it is actually determined after a hearing before the Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole Services.  Your eligibility for pardon is largely in the discretion of the Department, and with a proper showing, you may actually have something pardoned that you did not think possible.  The attorneys at Futeral & Nelson will be able to help determine whether it is worth your while to attempt obtaining a pardon. To read more about pardons in South Carolina, click here.

Charleston Criminal Record Expungement Lawyer

South Carolina’s expungement laws can be confusing, and attempting to decipher your criminal record can be challenging. If you need your record expunged, contact the criminal lawyers of Futeral & Nelson, LLC. For more information, please visit our Charleston Criminal Defense Services Page and our Charleston Criminal Defense Lawyer Page.


If you need help with an expungement in Charleston, SC, call the lawyers of Futeral & Nelson, LLC today. 843-284-5500.



Comments 04

  • Vivian

    February 1, 2014 12:38 pm · Reply

    If your charge cannot be expunged, and you go before the pardon board and get pardoned, then can your RECORD be expunged?

  • Stephan Futeral

    February 1, 2014 1:44 pm · Reply

    Unfortunately not Vivian. If you want to read more about pardons in South Carolina, please read our post here:

  • will

    April 2, 2014 6:26 pm · Reply

    You mentioned charges that occured before the age of 25. Does this include charges such as minor in posessions and public intoixication charges? If there were multiple ones through the college years.

    • Stephan Futeral

      April 3, 2014 10:44 am · Reply

      Will, if these charges were dismissed, they can be expunged. If it was a single conviction without another conviction in three years, then it should be expungable. If it was two separate convictions within three years of each other, then probably not. The expungement rule regarding a person who is under 25 years of age generally refers to more serious offenses than what you mentioned where the person was sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA). Ultimately, the precise answer depends on a review of your entire criminal record.


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