In South Carolina, there are more than 20,000 people who are currently incarcerated. The vast majority of inmates are not sentenced to life, and will eventually be released and will need to find jobs and move on to a brighter future. Unfortunately, as News 13 reports, criminal records of people who have been formally arrested, or formally convicted, can be a barrier when it comes to getting an education or a job.
Fortunately, there is a way to make a fresh start. Expungement can wipe clean your past criminal history so you can move forward and benefit from more opportunities. But it is not available in all cases or to all individuals. Many people with a criminal past attend expungement workshops, hoping to learn how to clear their criminal records so they can move forward in their lives. As any criminal defense attorney knows, however, the problem is an expungement workshop may not be the best way to try to get rid of your criminal history.
Attendees at Expungement Workshops May Face Challenges Getting their Records Cleared
Expungement workshops were held in Myrtle Beach in July and will occur again in March. There are two annual workshops at different counties in South Carolina, which are sponsored by the local Neighborhood Services Division. The workshops were initially created by a former parole officer who worked with former convicts for 26 years and who saw how hard people struggled to get jobs because of their criminal records.
The workshops provide paperwork to make it possible for attendees to file for either a pardon or expungement. The difference between a pardon and an expungement were also explained to attendees.
What is the different between expungement and a pardon?
Expungement can remove information about charges from a criminal record but are available only in limited cases. To be eligible for expungement, you must not have been convicted of the charges or the prosecutor must have declined to prosecute the crime. In some cases, you may be eligible for expungement if you participated in a pre-trial diversion or alcohol education program; if you were convicted of certain minor misdemeanors or infractions for the first time; or if you were convicted of certain non-violent juvenile offenses.
A pardon, on the other hand, ends any penalties and excuses a defendant of a crime from the legal consequences of conviction for a criminal offense. But a pardon does not erase conviction. The original charge may still appear on your criminal record. As a result, a pardon may not be as beneficial in clearing your record as an expungement.
Why should I hire an expungement lawyer to clear my criminal record?
While workshops can explain basic differences and provide paperwork, you are not going to get legal advice on whether you are eligible for either a pardon or expungement. You are also not going to get individualized help filling out paperwork, or personalized one-on-one legal guidance throughout the process of seeking a pardon or expungement.
You have too much at stake to tackle such a complicated legal issue on your own. There's no room for mistakes when it comes to getting your record cleared. That's why it's important you receive help from a qualified legal advocate who can maximize your chances of success.