Expungement in South Carolina

As a criminal defense lawyer, one of the questions my clients most frequently ask is, “Are my charges eligible for expungement?”

Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to that question.  The rules are different based on what type of offense it is, whether you were found Guilty or Not Guilty, which Court the case was in, and even which of the several databases you are seeking to get your charges expunged from. 

Below, I have prepared answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding expungement in South Carolina.  Please bear in mind that this information is general in nature, and is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice.  Your own situation may vary.

  • My case is still open.  I have not been to Court yet.  Does it show up on my record?

    • If the case is still open, it will show in the Public Index (county-wide database) as “pending.”  If you were fingerprinted at the time of your arrest, the information will be sent to SLED (state-wide database) and it will also show as “pending.”  If you were not fingerprinted at the time of your arrest, the information will not show on SLED (state-wide database).  Your driving record (DMV database) will not show anything unless you are convicted. 
  • I was found Not Guilty or my charge was dismissed.  Can I get it expunged from my record?

    • If the case is in the lower-level Magistrates or Municipal Court, and has been dismissed by the prosecutor or you have been found Not Guilty, it is eligible for expungement.  This process may be done automatically, or you may need to submit a letter to the Court specifically requesting the expungement.
    • If the case is in the upper-level General Sessions Court, some dismissed charges may be expunged, and others may not.  You will need to contact a lawyer to determine if your case is eligible.
  • I was found Guilty, or pled Guilty to my charge.  Can I ever get it expunged?

    • Usually, no.
    • A select few lower-level Magistrates or Municipal Court offenses may be eligible for expungement after a three (3) year period or a five (5) year period, even if the Defendant was found Guilty; however, you will need to contact a lawyer to determine if this applies to your case.
    • If you were found Guilty in the upper-level General Sessions Court, your case is not eligible for expungement, no matter how much time has passed.
  • How do I run a background check on myself?  How many databases are there in South Carolina where my record is kept?

    • There are three (3) databases in South Carolina where your record may be kept, the Public Index (COUNTY), SLED (STATE) and your SCDMV Driving Record (TRAFFIC OFFENSES).
    • The Public Index (county-wide database) is free of charge.  You may enter your information on the following website, to check your record by County: https://www.sccourts.org/caseSearch/
    • SLED (state-wide database) charges $25.00 per background check.   This is the background check that most potential employers and landlords use.  You may purchase a copy of yours by visiting the following website: https://catch.sled.sc.gov/.
    • 3-year Driving Records or 10-year Driving Records (DMV database) may be purchased for $6.00 at any DMV, or online at: https://scdmvonline.com/Driver-Services/Drivers-License/Driving-Record


If you believe your charges may be eligible for expungement in South Carolina, please do not hesitate to contact me at (864) 467-3221. As an experienced criminal defense attorney, I will gladly review your case to help determine your eligibility.


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