Everybody makes mistakes…it’s the comeback that counts.
If you’ve ever been charged with a crime, the arrest itself will show up on a background check even if you were found not guilty or the charge was dismissed, unless you apply to have the arrest expunged from your record. Basically, expungement means you can erase a criminal charge from your record. There are also some instances where the arrest can be expunged even if you were found guilty! After you have been charged, or even convicted of a crime, you should ask an attorney for a free consultation to see if any blemishes on your rap sheet can be expunged.
An order of expungement destroys all records related to the arrest in both public and commercially filed systems, and all agencies must destroy records related to the arrest, booking report, mug shot, fingerprints, and disposition. It’s as if it never happened. Expunging your record will help you apply for admission into school or a job application, since once you receive an order of expungement, you can simply say “no” to the question of whether you have ever been arrested.
All charges that have been dismissed, noll prossed, or the defendant found not guilty can be expunged. While some courts are required to automatically start the expungement, others are not, so you should always be pro-active. Plus, South Carolina Law also allows a person to have his arrest expunged even if convicted of any of the below:
1. First offense fraudulent check and no other convictions within a year
2. Successful completion of a conditional discharge sentence, PTI program or AEP program
3. The conviction carried a penalty of not more than 30 days and no other convictions within 3 years
4. First offense Failure to Stop for Blue Light and no other convictions for 3 years
5. CDV conviction and no other convictions within 5 years
6. Successful completion of a Youthful Offender Act sentence and no other convictions for 5 years
Most motor vehicle violations and hunting/fishing charges are not crimes, so they don’t go on your criminal record, thus there is nothing to expunge. Convictions for DUI, felonies, and violent crimes cannot be expunged, unless they meet one of the above criteria, but you should always check with your attorney after the case has ended to see if you should apply for an expungement order. Keep in mind, each arrest and/or conviction has to meet certain requirements to be expunged, and each come with different filing fees and court costs, so consult with your attorney or use this guide to see if you qualify to have your arrest or conviction expunged from your criminal history.
If you would like to start the expungement process, below are the general steps you need to follow:
1. Get a copy of your criminal history report to see if any arrests or convictions can be expunged by going to www.sled.sc.gov and click on SLED Catch
2. Obtain a certified copy of your disposition sheets from the court that handled the arrest or conviction
3. Obtain and complete the application for expungement from the solicitor’s office for the county where the arrest occurred
4. Submit the completed application and any required filing fees and court costs to the solicitor’s office
Traditionally, the expungement process takes 6-8 weeks from the time you file the application, and you should follow-up to ensure the Order of Destruction was properly filed. The best way is to order another copy of your criminal history report. Go to www.sled.sc.gov and click SLED Catch. Also, make sure it has been erased from the public index and the commercial databases.
If you have any questions about the expungement process, or would like a free consultation to see if you qualify for an expungement, call me at (843) 225-2520 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Helpful links regarding expungements: