If you have a first-offense drug conviction in SC, your Myrtle Beach expungement attorney at Axelrod and Associates may be able to help you erase it from your record.
The types of offenses that can be expunged in SC are limited but include first-offense minor convictions in the magistrate or municipal courts, convictions under SC's Youthful Offender Act, and, under amendments to SC expungement laws that were passed last year, the types of drug convictions that can be expunged in SC have been expanded.
What is an expungement in SC? And, when can you expunge a SC drug conviction from your record?
What is an Expungement in SC?
If your record is expunged in SC, it means that all records of the arrest and disposition must be destroyed, with some exceptions to allow agencies to retain records to respond to lawsuits and to track who has completed diversion programs in SC.
Your name and information should be deleted from any government agency's websites, and, subject to the exceptions I noted, paperwork and other physical records must be destroyed.
Wallah! Clean record again...
What About Non-Government Websites or Companies?
Although you may have other remedies if a non-governmental company or website continues to display your arrest record, the expungement order only applies to government agencies like the jail, prison, police department, clerk of court, and prosecutors' office.
Can a Drug Conviction be Expunged in SC?
Some drug convictions can be expunged in SC.
Before 2018, SC law allowed first offense simple possession of marijuana charges to be expunged three years after the conviction or after the defendant completes a diversion program like Pretrial Intervention (PTI) or a conditional discharge.
The 2018 amendments to SC's expungement laws made some additional types of first offense drug convictions eligible for expungement including:
First offense simple possession of any type of drug can now be expunged three years after the conviction.
First offense possession of prescription drugs can now be expunged three years after the conviction.
First offense possession with intent to distribute any type of drugs can now be expunged 20 years after the conviction.
What is a Youthful Offender Act (YOA) Expungement in SC?
SC's Youthful Offender Act expungements have been through some changes over the past decade or so.
Before the 2010 amendments, you could expunge a YOA conviction, but you had to wait for 15 years after the completion of the sentence. Also, per a SC Supreme Court case called Gay v. Arial, you were eligible for a YOA expungement even if you did not plead under the Youthful Offender Act, so long as you would have been eligible for a Youthful Offender Act sentence.
In 2010, the legislature reduced the 15-year waiting period to five years after completion of the sentence but changed the language of the statute so that people who did not plead under the Youthful Offender Act would not be eligible for an expungement - effectively reversing Gay v. Arial.
This created an ex-post facto violation for the people who pled guilty before 2010 with the understanding that their convictions would be expunged after 15 years - suddenly the legislature was telling them they could not get an expungement in SC.
The 2018 amendments to the expungement laws fixed this, specifying that any person who would have been eligible for a YOA expungement prior to 2010, even though they did not plead under the Youthful Offender Act, is now eligible for an expungement in SC five years after the completion of their sentence.
Going forward, however, only persons who plead guilty under the Youthful Offender Act will be eligible for an expungement under the Youthful Offender Act.
What Types of Convictions Can Be Expunged in SC?
The types of expungements in SC, and their corresponding code sections include:
- Section 34-11-90(e), first offense misdemeanor fraudulent check;
- Section 44-53-450(b), conditional discharge;
- Section 22-5-910, first offense conviction in magistrates court;
- Section 22-5-920, youthful offender act;
- Section 22-5-930, first offense simple possession or possession with intent to distribute drug convictions;
- Section 56-5-750(f), first offense failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle;
- Section 17-22-150(a), pretrial intervention;
- Section 17-1-40, criminal records destruction, except as provided in Section 17-22-950;
- Section 63-19-2050, juvenile expungements;
- Section 17-22-530(A), alcohol education program; and
- Section 17-22-330(A), traffic education program.
Can I Expunge the Arrest Records if My Case is Dismissed?
When a charge is dismissed or you are acquitted at trial, all records of the arrest and disposition can be expunged.
If your case was in the magistrate or municipal court, this process should be automatic - the clerk of court is required to begin the expungement process even if you do not request it. If your case was dismissed or you were acquitted and they did not expunge your arrest record, call us and we may be able to help.
If your case was dismissed or ended in an acquittal in General Sessions Court, you are also entitled to an expungement, but the process is not automatic. You will have to complete the paperwork and follow through to ensure that your record is expunged.
Can I Get an Expungement in SC if I Completed a Diversion Program?
If you completed a diversion program like Pretrial Intervention (PTI), Alcohol Education Program (AEP), Drug Court, or the Traffic Education Program (TEP), your charges are dismissed, and you can have all records expunged.
This must be done through the diversion program, though. For example, if you completed PTI years ago, your case was dismissed, but you did not follow through with the expungement, you must call the PTI office to complete the expungement.
If you are not sure if your convictions can be expunged in SC, call a SC expungement lawyer on the Axelrod team. We will review your criminal history, determine if you are eligible for an expungement in SC, help you to complete the paperwork, and follow through to ensure that your record is expunged.