A felony has a big impact on a person’s life and if you live in South Carolina, you’ve come here trying to find out how to get the felony off your record. Realize that with all felony records, there are three options you can take. 1) Expunge Your Record 2) Seal Your Record 3) Request a Pardon of Your Record
The problem though is that all states don’t offer all three of these options. But before we get into what South Carolina offers, let’s review what each of these options actually mean.
If you get your record expunged in South Carolina it’s as if your arrest and/or charges never happened. Your record is completely destroyed, including all physical and public records. When asked if have a criminal record, after expungement, you can truthfully answer “no”.
Sealing your record in South Carolina is similar to expungement, but your record still exists in a limited form. The public does not have access to your record, but there are some exceptions. Your records can still be accessed by law enforcement and the courts. Record sealing is not as secure as expungement, but it is a reasonable alternative that is comparatively easier to obtain if your state offers it.
If you receive a pardon in South Carolina, you still have record of your arrest or charge, but your guilt is exonerated. That is, you have proven that you are rehabilitated and forgiven for your crimes. You can also get relief in terms of having various rights restored, such as your right to vote. The requirements for pardons vary between states, but typically there is a lot of documentation required, and includes lengthy waiting periods to apply and receive a pardon.
Things to Know Before You Start
First: It’s important to understand that every state is different in terms of what methods are available for felons to remove their record and the information below will help you understand what you can do in South Carolina.
Felony Expungement in South Carolina
No, it is not possible to expunge your felony in South Carolina but it depends on the felony.
Sealing a Record in South Carolina
No, it is not possible to seal your record in South Carolina.
Getting a Pardon in South Carolina
Yes, it is possible to get a pardon of your record in South Carolina but it depends on the felony.
Second: When trying to clear your record, you really have two options. The first is to get a free consultation from a lawyer to see what they think of your case, and the second is to try to do all of the paperwork yourself.
Third: We HIGHLY recommend that you get a free consultation from a lawyer prior to taking any action. We say this because whether you want to expunge, seal, or pardon your record, it’s an extremely complicated process. Failure to follow the process properly can end up with you being denied for the request and having to wait additional time (sometimes several years) before you can file again. In addition, getting an expungement lawyer can increase your odds of succeeding and sometimes it’s more affordable than you think. The first step is to click on the button below to confirm that you’re eligible for the expungement/sealing off your record.
Can You Expunge a Felony in South Carolina?
Unfortunately expungement works only for minor or first-time offenses. Major offenses and consecutive felonies cannot be expunged.
How to Expunge a Felony in South Carolina
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to expunge your record.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because expungements are mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible for expungement based on our test, then you should stop here.
Can You Seal Your Criminal Record in South Carolina?
Unfortunately, you cannot get any kind of criminal record sealed in South Carolina.
Can You Apply for a Pardon in South Carolina?
In South Carolina, a pardon is a grant by the state that excuses you of your crime from its legal consequences. It does not erase a conviction, it just ends the penalty.
CANNOT PARDON IF…
SupervisionIf you are/were on parole, you are eligible to apply for a pardon if you have successfully completed at least five years under supervision; however, if your parole period is/was less than five years, you are eligible the moment you are released from supervision.Restitution If you still owe any victim restitution or other court-imposed fines, you are not eligible for a pardon until you have paid them off. For an Out-of-State Conviction, you can only be granted a pardon for a South Carolina conviction.
How to Apply for a Pardon in South Carolina
• Before you begin this process, we insist that you take this eligibility test to determine if you’re eligible to request a pardon for your record. In most cases, if you are eligible for expungement on our test, then you’ll be eligible for a pardon.
• If you are eligible, you should talk to the lawyer that we refer you to so that you get an idea of the price for their services (it’s likely cheaper than you think because requesting a pardon is mostly paperwork) and see what other helpful information they can give you.
• If you are not eligible based on our test, then you should stop here.
• If you are eligible based on our test and want to do this without a lawyer, continue reading.
• The Board has conveniently placed its pardon application form on its website for you to download here. If you cannot access the Board’s website or the application form itself, you can contact the Board directly at 803-734-9220 and request that one be mailed or emailed to you. You can also write to:Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon ServicesAttn: Legal Services, Pardon Application Processing2221 Devine Street, Suite 600P.O. Box 50666 Columbia, SC 29250Steps to apply for a pardon in South Carolina
Step 1. In addition to filling out all basic information, you will need to list all arrests and convictions you have ever received (in South Carolina and elsewhere, including federal offenses), excluding minor traffic and parking tickets.
• You will need to know the name of the offense, the date you were arrested or convicted, and the county where you were arrested or convicted.
Step 2. You will need to submit three letters of reference along with your application.
• The letters cannot come from anyone who is related to you by blood or marriage.
• These should come from credible people (such as your boss) who know you well and can say good things about you.
• The letters must list the name, address, home and work telephone number of the person, and must be signed and dated by the person.
• The letters must also state that the person supports your application for a pardon and the reason why.
• The Board will contact these people for verification.
Step 3. You will also need to sign a release (attached to the application) authorizing the Board to obtain information about your employment, military, credit, medical, education, and other records.
• The release must be notarized, which means it must be signed in front of a notary public.
• You can find a notary public in most banks.
Step 4. If you have ever been ordered to pay any victim restitution or other court-imposed fines as part of a sentence, you will need to submit a certified statement from the appropriate authority (usually the court itself) which indicates that you have paid all restitution and other fines in full.
Step 5. We highly suggest that you submit, on a separate sheet of paper, a detailed and genuine personal statement explaining why you need a pardon.
• In your personal statement, don’t simply say you want a clean criminal record again.
• Tell the Board how your conviction has negatively affected you and/or your family.
• For example, explain how you have been denied housing or employment opportunities because of your conviction, and how this has prevented you from providing you and your family an adequate standard of living. Submit any proof you may have (such as denial letters) to support your claims.
• If you are facing deportation because of a conviction, explain how being separated from your family will negatively affect you as well as them.
• If you are pursuing a career in a field that requires you to obtain a pardon, submit documents, letters, or other proof from a prospective employer, licensing agency, or attorney verifying this necessity.
• If you need to regain your gun rights, explain why you need this—for example, you are pursuing a career that requires the use of firearms, or you want to take part in your family hunting traditions, or you simply want to feel more secure and able to defend yourself and/or your family after a recent traumatic event.
• Also indicate in your personal statement all the positive things that have occurred in your life—for example, educational achievements, new or stable employment, marriage and children, community involvement, charitable services or donations, law-abiding behavior, etc.
• Submit copies of your college transcript, high school diploma or GED, military certificates, marriage certificate, honors and awards, and other proof of your rehabilitation and good character.
• Explain what your future plans are and how a pardon would help you.
• In writing your personal statement, keep in mind that the Board will not be retrying you for the offense.
• Although you may feel the need to explain the facts of the crime from your perspective, avoid trying to make excessive excuses for your crime and arguing away your guilt.
• However you feel about the crime, you have already been found guilty.
• The Board is probably more interested in seeing your remorse for the crime, and your understanding of its effects on the victim and society, than anything else.
Step 6. Keep a copy of everything you send for your records.
• Your completed application, along with your personal statement, all supporting documents, the three letters of reference, and the $100.00 check, should be mailed to:South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon ServicesP.O. Box 50666Columbia, SC 29250
Step 7. After the Board receives your application, it will determine whether you are eligible; if so, your application will be investigated by agents of the Board. An investigation may involve a personal interview on you. You should be upfront and cooperative with the Board and its agents at all times.
Step 8. After investigation is complete, a hearing will be held on your application.
• You will have an opportunity to be present at the hearing and make a statement or presentation in your support.
• If possible, you should have a few people there to support you and possibly speak out for you (if allowed).
• The hearing will be an excellent opportunity for you to put a human face onto your application; it lets the Board not only see you in person but also see the support you have in your community.
• The hearing will be before the entire Board. The victim and/or representative of the State may be there to oppose your application.
• If your application is denied, you cannot reapply until one year has passed after the date you were denied.
• If you are granted a pardon, the Board will issue you a “certificate of pardon” which states that you have been absolved of all legal consequences of your conviction and that all of your citizenship rights have been restored.
So, there you have it. One way to get rid of your record in South Carolina. As we’ve said numerous times throughout this page, this is a really complicated process and we highly recommend that you take this eligibility test prior to taking any action to determine if you are eligible for any of these options.
Please note, the information contained here is not legal advice and is strictly informational. If you have any further questions about the information above, or in general, you need to contact a lawyer directly.