To serve as ministers of justice in the fair and diligent prosecution of those charged with criminal offenses occurring in the Fifth Judicial Circuit, thereby preserving peace, safety and dignity for all citizens of this Circuit.
What is Expungement?
Expungement is the removal of the record of an arrest or conviction so that the offense no longer appears on a criminal record/rap sheet. Even if charges were dismissed, nol prossed (not prosecuted), or if a person is found not guilty, the information about the charges still appears on their criminal record/ rap sheet unless the individual applies to have them expunged.
Not All Convictions Can Be Expunged
- Traffic convictions CANNOT be expunged (with the exception of a 1st offense failure to stop for a blue light).
- Fish and wildlife convictions CANNOT be expunged.
- Convictions for felonies or heinous crimes CANNOT be expunged.
This office has the authority to expunge records in Richland and Kershaw counties only. By law, the expungement of a record is granted in the jurisdiction where that conviction occurred. Additionally, different laws apply in other states and for federal convictions.
What Can Be Expunged?
Only offenses that fit into one of the following eight (8) categories can be expunged:
1. Dismissed, no-billed or nol prossed (not prosecuted) charges, and “not guilty” verdicts;
2. Charges dismissed after successful completion of the Pretrial Intervention (PTI), the Alcohol Education (AEP) or the Traffic Education (TEP) Program.
3. A 1st offense misdemeanor conviction for fraudulent check, if there are no additional convictions within one (1) year from the date of conviction;
4. A 1st offense drug possession charge for which a defendant received and complied with a court- ordered conditional discharge.
5. A 1st offense misdemeanor conviction which carries a maximum penalty of 30 days and/or a fine of $1,000:
- If there are no additional convictions within three (3) years from the date of the conviction;
- For a 1st offense criminal domestic violence conviction, the individual must have no other convictions within five (5) years from the date of the conviction;
6. A conviction under the Youthful Offender Act (YOA): A YOA sentence covers certain non-violent offenses committed by persons under the age of 25; Must have no other convictions within five (5) years after the completion of the YOA sentence, including probation and parole.
7. A 1st offense misdemeanor conviction for failure to stop for a blue light, if there are no additional convictions within three (3) years after the date of the conviction;
8. Eligible juvenile offenses:
- May apply once the offender is 18 years of age;
- The juvenile sentence has been completed and there are no additional charges;
- The juvenile offense was a status or non-violent offense;
- No prior juvenile adjudications that would carry a maximum sentence of five (5) years or more if committed by an adult.
- The granting of the expungement is at the court’s discretion.
How Do I Get An Expungement?
It is not necessary to hire an attorney for an expungement. You must apply for an expungement by contacting the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office Expungement Division.
How Much Does It Cost?
There are fees associated with an expungement, except when charges are dismissed or nol prossed (not prosecuted), or when a person is found not guilty. In those cases, the expungement is FREE, unless charges are dismissed in plea negotiations.
Otherwise, the following fees may apply:
$25 SLED (verification fee)
$35 Clerk of Court (filing fee)
$250 Solicitor’s Office (administrative fee)
These three fees are paid to different agencies; therefore, a separate certified check or money order is required for each.
Many convictions cannot be expunged. 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 a 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 their sentence, including probation, or if on parole, have completed at least 5 years under supervision. All restitution and fees must have been paid.
Pardons are NOT handled by the Solicitor’s Office. Pardons are granted through the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services (SCDPPP).
No attorney is required for a pardon. For more information and an application visit: http://www.dppps.sc.gov.