There are a number of pretrial diversion programs that are available in SC for first-time offenders or for people charged with relatively minor offenses, including:
- PTI or Pretrial Intervention,
- Drug Court,
- AEP or the Alcohol Education Program,
- TEP or the Traffic Education Program,
- Juvenile arbitration, and
- Conditional discharges for minor drug offenses.
Whether you were arrested while you were in Myrtle Beach for vacation or you are a long-time resident of the Myrtle Beach area, you may be eligible for one of these pretrial diversion programs that allow you to get your charges dismissed and expunged once you complete the program.
Diversion Programs for Drug Offenses in SC
If you have been charged with a drug offense in Horry County, SC, you may be eligible for Pretrial Intervention through the PTI office in Conway, SC, the 15th Circuit’s Drug Court program, or a conditional discharge, depending on the facts of your case and your criminal history.
Conditional Discharge for Minor Drug Offenses
Conditional discharges in SC are most often used in first-offense simple possession of marijuana cases, but a conditional discharge can also be used for other minor drug offenses.
Your attorney can request a conditional discharge from the officer and the court if you do not have any prior convictions on your record. If you are charged in the lower courts (magistrate or municipal court), it may be as simple as completing a predetermined number of community service hours at a non-profit organization, getting a timesheet signed to document the hours you have worked, then having your attorney turn in the timesheet for you.
Once you have completed the community service hours (and any other requirements the court places on your conditional discharge), your charges are dismissed and all records of your arrest and prosecution should be expunged by the court.
Horry County’s Drug Court is for more serious offenses, it is a more involved program that may take 18 months or longer to complete, and admission into the program is in the discretion of the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.
If you are accepted into Drug Court, you must plead guilty to the drug charges. Then the court will “hold your sentence in abeyance” while you begin the program. You will be required to attend drug court sessions (usually held in the probate court), attend counseling, attend a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, take random drug tests, pay Drug Court fees, court costs, and restitution, and either work full time or go to school full time.
If you complete the program, the court will reopen your case, dismiss the charges, and expunge the offense from your record. On the other hand, if you do not complete the program, you will go back to court where the judge will send you to prison – you won’t get a trial, because you have already pled guilty.
Will My Charges be Expunged?
All pretrial diversion programs in SC, if successfully completed, result in dismissal of the charges and expungement of your record. The expungement is not automatic, though – you must apply for the expungement (and possibly pay a fee) at the agency where you completed the program (for example, the PTI office or the court that gave you a conditional discharge).
Other Pretrial Diversion Programs in SC
The remaining pretrial diversion programs are operated through the 15th Circuit’s Pretrial Intervention (PTI) office in Conway, SC, including the PTI program, TEP, AEP, and juvenile arbitration programs.
TEP – Diversion Programs for Traffic Offenses
TEP, or the Traffic Education Program (called “Traffic School” in other states), may be an option if you have a traffic ticket that carries four points or less, if you have no serious history of traffic violations, and if you have a valid drivers license.
After completing the program (minimal community service and a traffic course), your ticket is dismissed and can be expunged.
AEP – Diversion Programs for Alcohol Offenses
Only certain types of criminal charges are eligible for the Alcohol Education Program (AEP), including:
- Minor in possession of alcohol,
- Open container,
- Public disorderly conduct,
- Public intoxication, or
- Possession of a fake ID.
The requirements to complete the AEP program are less than the requirements for PTI but more involved than the requirements for TEP. It will involve 20 hours of community service, an eight-hour alcohol education class, and a four-hour defensive driving class.
Once you complete all requirements of the AEP program, your charges will be dismissed and expunged.
PTI – Pretrial Intervention Program
How do you get into PTI in Myrtle Beach, SC?
The bottom line is that admission into the PTI program (or AEP or TEP) is in the discretion of the solicitor – typically, the prosecutor, the arresting officer, and the alleged victim (if any) must agree before someone is admitted into the program.
There are also statutory requirements for admission into the PTI program. For example, SC Code Section 17-22-60 says that PTI is only appropriate where:
(1) there is substantial likelihood that justice will be served if the offender is placed in an intervention program;
(2) it is determined that the needs of the offender and the State can better be met outside the traditional criminal justice process;
(3) it is apparent that the offender poses no threat to the community;
(4) it appears that the offender is unlikely to be involved in further criminal activity;
(5) the offender, in those cases where it is required, is likely to respond quickly to rehabilitative treatment;
(6) the offender has no significant history of prior delinquency or criminal activity; [and]
(7) the offender has not previously been accepted in a pretrial intervention program.
Also, you are prohibited from entering the PTI program by SC Code Section 17-22-50 if:
- You have ever been accepted into a PTI program before,
- You are charged with blackmail,
- You are charged with DUI or DUAC,
- You are charged with a traffic offense punishable only by a fine,
- You are charged with a “crime of violence” as defined in Code Section 16-1-60, or
- You are charged with second offense or greater domestic violence.
If you are accepted into the PTI program, you will need to complete 60 hours of community service at a non-profit organization, report to the PTI office, take drug tests, go to counseling if required, and pay restitution (if any).
Once you complete the program’s requirements, your charges will be dismissed, and you can get them expunged.
PTI Programs for Juvenile Offenders
The PTI office in Conway, SC also has pretrial diversion programs for juvenile offenders, including the Juvenile Arbitration Program, the CHANGE Program, and the Juvenile Diversion Program.
If you have been charged with a minor crime or drug offense in Myrtle Beach, SC, pretrial diversion, Pretrial Intervention (PTI), or Drug Court may be an option. Your defense attorney on the Axelrod team can help you to determine 1) whether pretrial diversion is available and 2) whether pretrial diversion is the best option in your case.