The most important reason to get an expungement is to get a charge erased from your record. Most people do not realize that if a charge is expunged, that person can legally and without committing perjury, testify that they have never been arrested for the particular charge that was expunged. This is quite powerful. However, there will be a record for law enforcement officials to see, but that charge will not be public nor available to the public for any reason.
In South Carolina, the legislature made changes to the expungement process to make a uniform process throughout the State. These changes allow for the following:
Pursuant to South Carolina Code of Laws § 17-1-40, the arrest and booking record, files, mug shots, and fingerprints of any person, who after being charged with a criminal offense and such charge is discharged or proceedings against such person dismissed or is found to be innocent of such charge, shall be destroyed and no evidence of such record pertaining to such charge shall be retained by any municipal, county or State law enforcement agency.
First time offenders in magistrate or municipal court, where the offense carries 30 days or less, can get an expungement after 3 years if they have no other convictions.
First time offenders convicted under the misdemeanor Fraudulent Check law with no additional criminal offenses within 1 year from the date of conviction.
First time offenders convicted of criminal domestic violence (CDV) can get an expungement after 5 years if they have no other convictions.
First time offenders convicted of misdemeanor failure to stop motor vehicle with no additional criminal offenses for 3 years after the completion of the sentence.
A person sentenced under the YOA (and under the current law they have to actually be sentenced under the YOA) can get an expungement 5 years after the completion of their sentence (release from prison or completion of probation or parole) if they have no other convictions.
If there are multiple charges arising from the same incident on the same day and they are resolved on the same court date, it counts as one charge for purposes of getting the conviction expunged.
If a charge is dismissed or the person is acquitted at trial, the arrest and disposition can be expunged.
A person who completes a pre-trial diversion program (Pre-Trial Intervention or PTI, Alcohol Education Program or AEP, or a conditional discharge) can have their arrest expunged after they have completed the program and the charge is dismissed.
A person who completes the Drug Court program will have their case re-opened, the charges dismissed, and then the arrest and disposition can be expunged.
Traffic offenses cannot be expunged (i.e. driving under the influence or DUI, driving under suspension or DUS, and reckless driving).
Other "convictions" that would preclude a person from getting an expungement includes "no-contest" or "Alford" pleas, and forfeitures (when you don't show up for court and they apply your bond money as a fine). Felonies cannot be expunged.
Expungements are handled through the solicitor's office where the charge or charges were prosecuted. In total, the cost is $310.00. $250 to the solicitor's office, $25 made payable to SLED, and $35 made payable to the county clerk of court.