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Expungements in SC – What Types of Convictions Can Be Expunged?

Expungements in SC – What Types of Convictions Can Be Expunged?
Axelrod & Associates, P.A.

Expungements in SC are available for certain types of minor and first-offense convictions as well as for cases that are dismissed or when a jury acquits a defendant.

An expungement – called an “expunction” in some states – is when a judge orders all government agencies to destroy all records of your arrest, prosecution, and conviction (if you were convicted) or all records of your arrest and prosecution if your case was dismissed or if you were acquitted.

In this article, we will discuss the types of convictions that can be expunged under SC law, including:

  • Offenses that can be expunged after three years including first-offense magistrate or municipal court convictions,
  • Offenses that can be expunged after five years (domestic violence third degree), and
  • Offenses that can be expunged after 20 years (possession with intent to distribute drugs).

Expungements in SC – A Complete List of Convictions that Can Be Expunged (as of March 2024)

A quick survey of websites and blog posts discussing expungements in SC reveals several articles with what appear to be incomplete lists of the expungements that are available under SC law.

One reason for this is that SC expungement laws keep changing – some attorneys have provided lists of convictions that could be expunged ten years ago, while others have only provided updates to SC expungement laws (for example, the 2018 amendments that added first-offense drug convictions for possession and possession with intent to distribute (PWID)) to the list without providing the complete list.

Here is what we believe is a complete, comprehensive list of all types of convictions that can be expunged in SC as of March 2024, including:

  • Magistrate or municipal court offenses,
  • Third-degree domestic violence,
  • Possession or PWID drugs,
  • YOA offenses, and
  • Other types of convictions that are eligible for expungements in SC.

Misdemeanors in the Magistrate or Municipal Courts

First-offense magistrate or municipal court convictions with a maximum potential penalty of up to 30 days can be expunged in SC after three years under SC Code § 22-5-910.

This does not include traffic offenses like speeding or driving under suspension. Unless there is a specific provision authorizing expungement (reckless driving tickets can be sent to PTI, for example), traffic offenses cannot be expunged under SC law.

Domestic Violence Third Degree

A first-offense third-degree domestic violence conviction in the magistrate or municipal court can also be expunged, but only after five years.

Drug Convictions

In 2018, SC expungement law was amended to include all first-offense drug possession convictions after three years – including offenses like possession of cocaine, crack, meth, heroin, or prescription drugs.

Possession with intent to distribute convictions can now be expunged as well, but you must wait 20 years after the completion of your sentence before you can apply for an expungement.

YOA Convictions

YOA convictions can now be expunged five years after the date of the completion of the person’s sentence. This does not include offenses that:

  • Involve a motor vehicle,
  • Are classified as violent crimes,
  • Involved domestic violence, or
  • Require sex offender registry.

You must plead guilty under the Youthful Offender Act to qualify for a YOA expungement (before this amendment was passed, you could get a YOA conviction if you would have qualified for a YOA sentence under Gay v. Ariail, even if you did not receive a YOA sentence, but the legislature changed this to require the person to plead guilty under the Youthful Offender Act).

Other Types of Convictions that can be Expunged in SC

More types of convictions are eligible for expungements in SC, and they are listed in SC Code § 22-5-910. These include:

(1) Section 34-11-90(e), first offense misdemeanor fraudulent check;

(2) Section 44-53-450(b), conditional discharge;

(3) Section 22-5-910, first offense conviction in magistrates court;

(4) Section 22-5-920, youthful offender act;

(5) Section 22-5-930, first offense simple possession or possession with intent to distribute drug convictions;

(6) Section 56-5-750(F), first offense failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle;

(7) Section 17-22-150(a), pretrial intervention;

(8) Section 17-1-40, criminal records destruction, except as provided in Section 17-22-950;

(9) Section 63-19-2050, juvenile expungements;

(10) Section 17-22-530(A), alcohol education program;

(11) Section 17-22-330(A), traffic education program;

(12) Section 17-22-1010, Youth Challenge Academy and Jobs Challenge Program; and

(13) any other statutory authorization.

Under SC’s new “constitutional carry” bill, first offense firearm possession with a potential penalty of no more than one year can be expunged after three years.

Anyone who has been convicted for unlawful possession of a handgun before the constitutional carry bill was passed can also apply for an expungement, but they must apply within five years of the date the bill was signed into law (March 7, 2024).

How Much Do Expungements in SC Cost?

There are fees that you must pay depending on the type of expungement you are seeking, and there may be attorney fees if you are using a Myrtle Beach, SC, expungement attorney to help you get your record expunged.

Contact our office or the solicitor’s office in the county where you were convicted to get an exact quote for the cost of your expungement.

Expungements in SC – Non-Convictions that Can Be Expunged in South Carolina

If you are charged with a crime and the prosecutor or court dismisses your charges or if you are acquitted by a jury at trial, you can get all records of your arrest and prosecution expunged even though there was no conviction.

Dismissals or Acquittals in General Sessions Court

In General Sessions Court, an expungement after a dismissal or acquittal should not cost any court fees (although there may be attorney fees).

It is not automatic, however. You or your attorney must apply to the solicitor’s office in the county where you were convicted for an expungement of each charge that was dismissed.

Dismissals or Acquittals in the Magistrate or Municipal Courts

In magistrate and municipal courts, the courts are required by law to automatically process your expungement after a dismissal or acquittal.

There’s a good chance they won’t, however. After a reasonable period of time has gone by, you or your attorney should follow up with the clerk of court if your case has not been expunged automatically.

Pre-Trial Diversion Programs

If you complete a pre-trial diversion program, and your charges are dismissed, you can get the records of your arrest, prosecution, and dismissal expunged, including:

  • Pretrial Intervention (PTI),
  • Alcohol Education Program (AEP),
  • Traffic Education Program (TEP),
  • Conditional discharges, and
  • Drug court.

You may need to apply for the expungement through the office that handled your pre-trial diversion, and you may need to pay additional fees to that agency before they process your expungement.

Got Axelrod?

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 complete the paperwork, and follow through to ensure that your record is expunged.

Call Axelrod and Associates now at 843-258-4582 or send an online message to talk with a Myrtle Beach, SC expungement attorney today.

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