The Supreme Court of South Carolina
O R D E R
RE: Expungement of Criminal Records
I FIND THAT upon a review of the process of the expungement of criminal records, a lack of uniformity statewide and a general misunderstanding of many applicants as to the appropriate procedure exists. The majority of the expungement process, which is primarily ministerial in nature but must be overseen by an attorney, is conducted by the solicitors offices statewide, with those offices receiving no compensation for the associated costs.
I FURTHER FIND that the implementation of a statewide process for the expungement of criminal records conducted solely by the solicitors offices in each county, with appropriate remuneration, will benefit all parties involved, but primarily those individuals making application for expungement.
THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that all expungement of criminal records initiated after the effective date of this Order be conducted solely by the solicitors office in each county throughout the State. Individuals seeking to expunge a criminal record shall obtain a blank expungement order (SCCA 223) from the clerk of court in the county where the charge was initiated. The clerk of court shall direct that person to the corresponding solicitors office. That solicitors office shall perform all functions associated with the expungement process, including verifying and documenting that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement, and obtaining all required signatures, including, if necessary, a summary court judge and/or pre-trial intervention representative, and ultimately, a circuit court judge in the county where the charge arose. The solicitor shall further be responsible for the proper filing of the completed expungement order with the clerk of court and providing the applicant with a sufficient number of true and certified copies of the Order, along with a list of governmental agencies and addresses, which must receive the Order. The list shall include, but may not be limited to, the arresting law enforcement agency, the detention facility/jail, the solicitors office, the magistrate or municipal court where the arrest warrant originated, and South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
In exchange for this service, the applicant is responsible to the clerk of court for the filing fee required by S.C. Code Ann. § 8-21-310 (21), which shall be deposited in the county general fund. The applicant shall further be responsible for payment to the solicitors office of an administrative fee in the amount of one hundred twenty five dollars ($125.00), which shall be retained by that office and used to defray the costs associated with this process. However, no fee shall be charged by the clerks or solicitors office to an applicant seeking the expungement of a criminal record pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 17-1-40, where the charge was discharged, dismissed, nolle prossed, or the applicant was found to be innocent.
Each solicitors office must maintain a record of all fees collected in exchange for the expungement of criminal records, which shall be made available to the Supreme Court upon its request. Otherwise, those records shall remain confidential.
This Order shall become effective immediately and remain in effect unless further amended or revoked by Order of the Chief Justice.
|s/Jean Hoefer Toal
Jean Hoefer Toal
November 14, 2002
Columbia, South Carolina