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The Supreme Court of South Carolina

The Supreme Court of South Carolina


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Jean H. Toal, Chief Justice
Expungement of Criminal Records
July 14, 2003

The attached order supersedes my order of November 14, 2002 concerning the process for expungement of criminal records.  This order is effective immediately.  I anticipate processing of pending expungement requests will be begin as soon as possible pursuant to the July 11, 2003 Order.

Thank you for your cooperation.  Please contact Court Administration if you require any assistance.

Cc:    Circuit Court Judges
          Summary Court Judges
          Clerks of Court
          Public Defenders
          SC Bar


The Supreme Court of South Carolina



RE: Expungement of Criminal Records

This Order supersedes the Order of the Chief Justice dated November 14, 2002, pertaining to the expungement process.

I FIND THAT upon a review of the process for the expungement of criminal records, a lack of uniformity statewide and a general misunderstanding of many applicants as to the appropriate procedure exists. 

I FURTHER FIND that the implementation of a statewide process for the expungement of criminal records will benefit all parties involved, but primarily those individuals making application for expungement.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED that applications for expungement of all criminal records pursuant to S.C. Code Ann. § 34-11-90(e) (first offense misdemeanor fraudulent check), S.C. Code Ann. § 44-53-450(b) (conditional discharge for simple possession of marijuana or hashish), S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-910 (first offense conviction in magistrates court), S.C. Code Ann. § 22-5-920 (youthful offender act), S.C. Code Ann. § 56-5-750 (f) (first offense failure to stop when signaled by law enforcement vehicle), S.C. Code Ann. § 17-22-150(a) (pretrial intervention), S.C. Code Ann. § 17-1-40 and any other statutory authorization shall be administered by the Solicitor’s Office in each circuit throughout the state.  In exchange for this service, the applicant is responsible for payment to the Solicitor’s Office of an administrative fee in the amount of one hundred fifty dollars ($150.00) per order, which shall be retained by that office and used to defray the costs associated with this process. 

Individuals applying 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 Solicitor’s Office to make application for expungement. 

The Solicitor’s Office shall implement policies and procedures not inconsistent with this order to ensure that the expungement process is properly conducted.  This would include, but not be limited to: assisting the applicant in completing the order; coordinating with the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to confirm that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement; verifying the presence of all necessary signatures; directing the applicant as to the proper filing of the completed expungement order with the Clerk of Court; and providing 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 Solicitor’s Office, the magistrate or municipal court where the arrest warrant originated, and SLED.    

SLED shall verify and document that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement. SLED shall receive a twenty-five dollars ($25.00) certified check or money order from the applicant made payable to SLED for each verification request. SLED shall then forward the necessary documentation back to the Solicitor’s Office involved in the process.

The applicant shall further be responsible to the Clerk of Court for the filing fee as required by S.C. Code Ann. § 8-21-310 (21), which shall be deposited in the county general fund.  However, no fee shall be charged by the Clerk’s 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 acquitted.  

Each Solicitor’s 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. 

Nothing in this Order shall preclude an applicant from retaining counsel to apply to the Office of Solicitor on their behalf or to initiate an action in Circuit Court seeking a judicial determination of eligibility when the Solicitor, within his/her discretion, does not consent.

This Order shall become effective immediately and remain in effect unless amended further or revoked by Order of the Chief Justice.          

S/Jean Hoefer Toal
Jean Hoefer Toal  
Chief Justice  

July 11, 2003
Columbia, South Carolina