After a conviction, it may be possible to change your criminal record for certain offenses. Many common charges that people face can eventually be expunged from your record, depending on the circumstances.

Because of the many benefits of a clean criminal record, you should discuss every legal option for erasing your record with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. At Adams & Bischoff, a North Charleston expungement lawyer could review your case, pursue expungement of eligible past convictions, and help you move forward with your life.

What is Expungement?

An expungement is an order that removes a conviction from a defendant’s criminal record. This is incredibly valuable to anyone who has ever been convicted of a crime. A criminal record can have a detrimental effect on a person’s ability to find employment, earn special licenses, or pursue their education. Wiping a record clean can improve a defendant’s future prospects.

Eligibility for Expungement in North Charleston

South Carolina Code 17-22-910 sets forth limited and specific circumstances for when a criminal conviction can be expunged. These include:

  • Charges that resulted in successful completion of a pre-trial intervention program
  • First offenses of misdemeanor fraudulent checks
  • Non-violent first offenses for individuals aged 17 to 24 years old at the time of conviction, provided that the defendant has not been convicted of a crime in the last five years
  • First offenses of marijuana possession for defendants who complete a conditional discharge program

Other types of offenses that may be expunged are those whose potential penalty is no more than thirty days in jail, a $500 fine, or both. In these cases, the defendant must have had no convictions for the previous three years following their sentence, and five years if the offense was for domestic violence.

Expungement of Non-Convictions

If a person is accused or arrested for a crime but is not convicted, this could still appear on their criminal record. From 2009 onward, courts are expected to automatically expunge records for non-convictions.

If a record that should have been expunged automatically still exists, or if the record occurred prior to 2009, a person would need a formal petition to expunge the records. A skilled expungement lawyer in the area could help with this process.

Filing for Expungement

All expungements are handled by the state Solicitor’s Office. The rules for filing in each district office may be slightly different. Following these very specific rules is necessary, so a local attorney experienced in filing expungements could be crucial in a successful petition.

Additionally, a filing fee is required along with the petition. Once the petition is successfully filed, the Solicitor’s Office will confirm eligibility for expungement and cross-reference information with the state Law Enforcement Division. A judge will ultimately decide whether or not to grant the expungement.

Consult a North Charleston Expungement Attorney on Your Case

If you have an arrest or conviction you wish to have expunged, a consultation with a skilled attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue all possible avenues for wiping your record. A clean record can have a huge impact on your entire future, so do not delay in calling a North Charleston expungement lawyer for help with your case.