Understanding South Carolina's expungement guidelines

Many in Florence may subscribe to the common misconception that misdemeanor offenses are not serious. In reality, such a conviction can follow one around as part of their public record, potentially interfering with their ability to find a job or secure housing. The limitations and stigma that a previous conviction can place on people may make moving on with one's life that much more difficult. Allowing one the opportunity to have their record cleared of a conviction assists in them successfully reintegrating themselves into society. 

That opportunity is available through expungement, yet having a record expunged is not available to all. Only certain types of misdemeanor convictions qualify. According to the South Carolina Judicial Department, these include: 

  • A first-time misdemeanor conviction for writing a fraudulent check
  • A first-time conviction for possession of marijuana (or certain other controlled substances)
  • A first-time conviction for failing to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle 

Additionally, any offense which carries a penalty of fines less than $500 or less than 30 days in prison are eligible for expungement. However, there are qualifying conditions attached to each of these offense categories. For example, if one is convicted of writing a bad check, they must first go through a one-year waiting period without facing any other criminal penalties before becoming eligible to have their record expunged. 

What happens if one has been convicted of an offense that has since been repealed? Section 17-22-910(B) of South Carolina's Code of Laws states that authorities will identify the current statute most applicable to the one that has been appealed and then consider whether said current statute does present the opportunity for expungement. 

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