criminal defenseSouth Carolina law allows for expungement, or the destruction of all criminal records related to a single offense, under certain circumstances. As South Carolina criminal defense attorneys, we regularly see records expunged, and we always encourage our clients to apply for it whenever possible.

Dismissal of case or not guilty verdict

Under the law, if a case is dismissed or if a defendant is found not guilty, all the records related to the arrest and booking are destroyed. This includes mug shots, fingerprints, and jail records.

First offense conviction in municipal or magistrate’s court

Three years after conviction of a first offense in a municipal or magistrate’s court, an offender may ask for expungement of arrest and trial records. However, if the offense involved domestic violence, motor vehicle, or fish, game, and watercraft, an expungement is not allowed. The defendant must have no other conviction during the three-year period, and expungement is allowed only once.

First-offense simple marijuana possession

If a first-time marijuana-possession offender is sentenced to a “conditional discharge,” he or she may ask for expungement after completing all court requirements. This is for simple possession offenses only, and after expungement, the offender does not have to admit or acknowledge the offense to anyone, including law enforcement or the judiciary. A good marijuana lawyer can ensure your record is expunged if you’re eligible or minimize the damage of your possession charges if you’re not.

Non-felonious check fraud

If a defendant has no other convictions in the year after a first-offense conviction of check fraud, he or she may apply for expungement. However, this does not apply to felonious check fraud, which is drawing any check or draft valued over $5,000, and only one conviction may be expunged.

Successful pre-trial intervention for first-time offenders

For first-time, non-violent offenders, South Carolina law provides for pre-trial intervention, a diversion and restoration program that may include payment of restitution or performing community service. After the pre-trial intervention has been completed, the offender may petition the court for an expungement order. This will effectively erase the offense, and the person does not have to acknowledge the offense later, even if under oath in court.

When South Carolina criminal records are expunged, no evidence remains of the offense, and often defendants cannot be charged with making a false statement if they do not acknowledge or admit the expunged offense.

To learn more about expungement of criminal records in South Carolina, click here.

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