Criminal Defense Attorney Columbia, South Carolina

The Difference Between Pardon vs. Expungement in South Carolina

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A criminal defense lawyer in Columbia, SC explains

For many people, having a clean criminal record is critical to maintaining a good life for themselves and their loved ones. Having past convictions often holds people back from getting good jobs and education, among other things.

In South Carolina, you have options to influence how your record looks. The two most common methods are filing an application for a pardon or expungement.

In the meantime, here are answers to commonly asked questions regarding South Carolina pardons and expungements.

What is a pardon?

South Carolina has two entities that handle pardon requests. There is a seven-member board that may reduce a person's sentence from death to life imprisonment and the Board of Probation and Pardon Services, which handles everything else.

With a pardon, your record stays intact, but some of the long-lasting penalties may be lifted or reduced. Through a pardon, you may have some civil rights restored like the right to vote, serve on a jury, hold public office, and resume a licensed profession.

How can an attorney help my application for pardon?

People must meet various benchmarks before they can apply for a pardon. A criminal defense attorney can help you figure out whether you are eligible and a timeline for the process.

To get a pardon you need to convince the board that you are a "changed person." Having a skilled negotiator and legal scholar explain your situation will likely take you further with the board than you could get on your own.

What is an expungement?

An expungement, also known as an "Order for Destruction of Arrest Records," is a court order to remove something from your criminal record. Usually, it can only be applied to crimes committed by minors and first offenses. Typically, major offenses cannot be expunged, but there are exceptions.

In South Carolina, expungement can be a difficult process. If you want something cleared from your record, you're going to have to petition a judge.

Is my record eligible to get cleared (expungement)?

Every case is different, so it is hard to list which crimes qualify for expungement and which don't. For the most part, the types of crimes that may qualify for expungement include:

  • Non-convictions where there is no guilty verdict, charges are dismissed, and the solicitor does not prosecute.
  • Pre-trial interventions where charges are dismissed based on the successful completion of a court-ordered program (may include substance abuse and/or traffic education).
  • A first offense misdemeanor under the Fraudulent Check Law.
  • A first offense for simple possession of marijuana or certain other illegal drugs.
  • A first-time conviction of a crime carrying a penalty of no more than 30 days imprisonment and a fine of no more than $500, or both, and no other convictions were recorded within the last three years or more.

Talk to a criminal defense attorney to learn more

While you are not required to hire a lawyer, it is generally in your best interest to at least talk to a criminal defense attorney to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options.

Attorney Matt Bodman is a knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how blemishes on your permanent record can bar you from getting a good job, loans, insurance, education, professional licensure, and housing, to name a few things. That's why he works so hard to get the best possible outcome in his clients' cases.

Discover what our law firm can do for you. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina Association for JusticeSouth Carolina Association for JusticeRichland County Bar AssociationRichland County Bar Association2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands