South Carolina Court Records
Are Criminal Records Public In South Carolina?
South Carolina criminal records are public records, and as such, they may be accessed by any interested member of the public under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act.
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division is the central repository for criminal records in the state. Certified copies of these records may be obtained from this agency.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In South Carolina?
Criminal records obtained from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division typically contain the following information:
- The subject’s full name and known aliases
- The subject’s date of birth
- The subject’s physical description
- The subject’s mugshot and fingerprints
- Pending warrants against the subject (if any)
- Details of past arrests (if any)
- Details of charges, convictions, and sentences brought against the subject
How To Look Up My Criminal Records In South Carolina
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division provides interested parties with access to criminal records. These records can either be accessed online via the agency’s CATCH website or by sending a written request for the records to the agency via mail-in.
Parties that wish to obtain copies of these records by mailing a written request to the agency will be required to complete and submit a Criminal Record Check form to:
SLED Records Department
PO. Box 21398
Columbia SC 29221–1398
A South Carolina criminal record check costs a non-refundable fee of $25. Requestors will be required to include this payment in the form of a business check, certified check, cashier’s check, or money order made payable to “SLED,” as well as a self-addressed stamped envelope, when mailing the completed record check request form. Also, parties that want the records notarized and certified are required to state this when mailing the request form specifically. Queries can be directed to (803) 737–9000.
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In South Carolina?
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division does not provide individuals with free access to criminal records. However, local school districts that wish to perform criminal record checks on prospective teachers and substitute teachers may do so free of charge. Also, charitable organizations that meet statutory requirements, as well as local school districts that wish to perform background checks on bus drivers and bus driver aides, are charged a reduced fee of $8.
Parties that wish to utilize these discounts will be required to have a verified user account with the agency, which can be gotten by completing and submitting a Charitable Account Application Form. Charitable organizations are also required to submit a copy of their IRS documentation of Section 501 (C)(3) status for review.
These documents should be submitted via mail to:
SLED Data Center
PO. Box 21398
Once an account has been verified, a user ID and password will be assigned, and this can be used to access the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division’s CATCH website.
It is important to note that, as stipulated by South Carolina Code § 16–30–240, the unauthorized use of a local school district or charitable organization’s user ID and password is strictly prohibited and could result in the payment of a fine and possible jail time.
How To Search Criminal Records Online In South Carolina
The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division provides members of the public with online access to criminal records through its Citizens Access To Criminal Histories (CATCH) website, which allows interested parties to perform name-based criminal record checks. Parties that wish to utilize this website will be required to provide the name, date of birth, and gender of the individual on whom the record check is to be performed. The individual’s maiden name (where applicable) and social security number may be provided too, but these fields are optional.
Records checks via this website cost a non-refundable fee of $25 and an additional convenience fee of $1. Requestors are advised to have a working printer available before making payment, and payment can be made via credit card only.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In South Carolina
Criminal record expungements in the state of South Carolina refer to the removal of criminal arrests and dispositions from an individual’s criminal record. Under South Carolina Code §17–22–910, also referred to as the Uniform Expungement of Criminal Records Act, an individual may be eligible for a criminal record expungement under the following conditions:
- The criminal record the individual wishes to expunge is a non-conviction case. (These are cases where charges were either dismissed or not prosecuted and cases where a verdict of “not guilty” was issued).
- The charges against the individual were dismissed after the individual successfully completed a Pre-Trial Intervention Program, an Alcohol Education Program, or a Traffic Education Program.
- The individual was convicted for a first offense misdemeanor conviction for a fraudulent check and has not had any other additional convictions for at least one year after the initial conviction.
- The individual was convicted for a first offense drug possession charge, received a conditional discharge, and successfully complied with all the requirements of the court-ordered conditional discharge.
- The individual was convicted for a first offense misdemeanor that has a maximum penalty of 30 days imprisonment or a fine of $500 and has not had any additional convictions for at least three years after the initial conviction.
- The individual was convicted for a first-time criminal domestic violence misdemeanor that has a maximum penalty of 30 days imprisonment or a fine of $500 and has not had any additional convictions for at least five years after the initial conviction.
- The individual was convicted as a first time youthful offender (between ages 17–24) for a non-violent misdemeanor, Class D, E or F felony with a maximum term of 15 years imprisonment, and has not had another conviction for at least five years after the completion of the sentence. This includes any probation and parole period.
- The individual was convicted for a first time misdemeanor involving the failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle, has successfully completed all sentencing requirements, and has not had any additional convictions for at least three years. This is only valid if the offense did not involve bodily injury. (It should be noted that this is the only traffic offense eligible for expungement in the state of South Carolina).
- The individual was not convicted for a motor vehicle, wildlife, and games offense.
The specific process for obtaining a criminal record expungement in the state of South Carolina may vary depending on the court where the offense was tried. Even though this process can be initiated without a lawyer, parties are advised to seek legal advice before requesting a criminal record expungement.
The process for obtaining a criminal record expungement from a South Carolina General Sessions Court generally involves the following steps:
- Contact the Solicitor in the judicial circuit where the criminal offense was committed. Contact details for South Carolina Solicitors can be obtained through this online directory.
- Obtain the necessary application forms from the office of the Solicitor. Parties may be required to provide a copy of their criminal record. This can be obtained from the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division.
- Pay a non-refundable administrative fee of $250 in the form of a certified check or money order made payable to the Solicitor. Requestors may also be required to pay a non-refundable verification fee of $25 made payable to the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division and a filing fee of $35 made payable to the County Clerk of Court where applicable. Note that under South Carolina Code § 17–1–40, parties that request for expungements of certain non-conviction records from the office of the Solicitor are exempted from paying the administrative fee.
After the necessary forms have been filled and all required fees have been paid, the application will be sent to the State Law Enforcement Division by the Solicitor’s office to verify whether the offenses listed in the application are eligible for expungement under statutory laws. If the offenses are deemed eligible for expungement, the application is sent back to the office of the Solicitor, who then obtains signatures from all necessary parties. The signatures may include the Pre-Trial Intervention Program director, the Summary Court judge, and the Circuit Court judge.
Once a Circuit Court judge signs an order for the destruction of records related to the charge(s) stated on the application form, the records will then be expunged. A copy of the expungement order is filed with the Clerk of Court, who will provide copies of the order to the requestor and all appropriate governmental agencies.
South Carolina Summary Courts follow a slightly different expungement process. Per South Carolina Code § 17–22–950, Magistrate and Municipal courts are required to expunge records of criminal cases where a verdict of “not guilty” was issued against the individual, or the charges filed against the individual was either dismissed or not prosecuted. Note, this does not apply where the charges were dismissed at a preliminary hearing, or if there is a pending related charge in another Summary or General Sessions Court.
In cases where the individual was fingerprinted at the time of arrest, these records are automatically expunged. However, in cases where the individual was not fingerprinted at the time of arrest, the individual will be required to complete and submit a Form SCCA 223E (Application for Expungement) to the Summary Court. (Parties that wish to expunge non-conviction records of cases that occurred before June 2, 2009, will also be required to complete and submit this form to the appropriate court).
In both situations, the prosecuting agency and law enforcement agency has the statutory right to object to the expungement of the records for any of the following reasons:
- The individual has other pertinent charges pending
- The charges against the individual are not eligible for expungement
All objections to a criminal records expungement by a Summary Court are to be made in writing within 30 days of the disposition. If this happens, a copy of the objection shall be forwarded to the appropriate Circuit Court, where a Circuit Court Judge will determine if the records are eligible for expungement. If it is determined that they are, the expungement process will be completed by the Summary Court.
Once the records have been expunged, the Summary Court will forward a copy of the disposition and a certified copy of the expungement order to the appropriate parties, which include:
- The individual that requested the expungement, or the individual’s attorney
- The South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (only in cases where the individual was fingerprinted at the time of arrest or the charge was not written on a courtesy summons)
- The law enforcement agency that handled the case
- The prosecuting agency in cases where the prosecution was handled by an agency different from the arresting law enforcement agency
- The appropriate detention facility (this is not necessary in cases where the initiating document was a courtesy summons)
- The county Clerk of Court (in cases where the charges were either appealed to the Circuit Court or remanded from a General Sessions Court)
- Any other Summary Court that was involved in processing the case
How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In South Carolina
The state of South Carolina does not have a legal process through which an individual may apply to seal their criminal records. However, criminal records may be expunged following South Carolina Code §17–22–910. When this happens, these records are no longer accessible to members of the public.
Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In South Carolina?
When a criminal record is expunged in the state of South Carolina, the record is destroyed and can no longer be accessed by members of the public. However, under South Carolina Code §17–1–40, access to some of these records may still be retained by certain law enforcement agencies and judicial, administrative institutions. Some examples of this include:
- Law enforcement agencies and prosecution agencies retain arrest and booking records, mug shots, associated bench warrants, and fingerprints for non-conviction expungements for three years and one hundred and twenty days. This information may also be retained indefinitely for an ongoing or a future investigation, the prosecution of the offense on the record, administrative hearings, or if they are deemed necessary for the defense of the agency and the agency’s employees during litigation proceedings.
- Booking records, identifying documentation, identifying materials, and institutional files, and reports under seal for expunged non-conviction records are retained by detention and correctional facilities for not more than three years and one hundred and twenty days. This begins from the date of the expungement order, after which they must be destroyed. An exception is made where the records are needed to address an action, inquiry, or complaint that was initiated.