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South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
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Expungements

Expungements in Magistrate and Municipal Courts

The procedure for expungements in this State previously required that all petitions for expungement of criminal records be initiated in the Solicitor's Office in the circuit where the charge arose. Those petitions were directed to circuit court judges, who signed all orders of expungements regardless of the court in which the case arose.

State law now provides for the expungement of criminal records in both the circuit and summary courts. §17-22-950 requires that the summary courts expunge the records of criminal cases disposed in those courts when an accused person is found not guilty or the charges are dismissed, or nolle prossed. However, there are exceptions to this rule. The charges are not eligible for expungement if:

The statute requires that no fee may be charged by the summary court for the expungements pursuant to §17-22-950. Please be advised that charges pursuant to that statute are the only allowance for expungements to be conducted by summary court judges. All other expungements are processed through the Solicitor's Office and signed by a circuit court judge. The process for expunging magistrate and municipal court cases is provided at below.

Summary Court Expungement Process as Required by 17-22-950(A) When Defendant Was Fingerprinted.

Summary Court Expungement Process as Required by 17-22-950(B) When Defendant Was Not Fingerprinted

The court should then expunge their records as they normally would, including any related bench warrant. Criminal charges must be removed from any internet-based public record no later than 30 days from the disposition date, regardless of whether the accused person applies to the summary court for expungement pursuant to §17-22-950(B). 

Expungement of Charges Where the Accused Was Found Not Guilty, Or the Charges Were Dismissed or Nolle Prossed Prior to the Effective Date of the Summary Court Expungement Legislation

NOTE: In regards to expunged records, pursuant to §17-1-40(B)(1)(a), law enforcement and prosecution agencies shall retain the arrest and booking record, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person under seal for three years and one hundred twenty days. A law enforcement or prosecution agency may retain the information indefinitely for purposes of ongoing or future investigations and prosecution of the offense, administrative hearings, and to defend the agency and the agency's employees during litigation proceedings. The information must remain under seal. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure, except by court order.  Pursuant to §17-1-40(B)(1)(b), detention and correctional facilities shall retain booking records, identifying documentation and materials, and other institutional reports and files under seal, on all persons who have been processed, detained, or incarcerated, for a period not to exceed three years and one hundred twenty days from the date of the expungement order to manage the facilities' statistical and professional information needs, and to defend the facilities and the facilities' employees during litigation proceedings, except that when an action, complaint, or inquiry has been initiated, the records, documentations and materials, and other reports and files may be retained as needed to address the action, complaint, or inquiry. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure, except by court order. At the end of the three years and one hundred twenty days from the date of the expungement order, the records must be destroyed unless they are being retained to address an action, complaint, or inquiry that has been initiated.