Expungements in South Carolina – Conviction v. Non-Conviction

Is there a difference between getting a conviction versus a non-conviction expunged from your record? Absolutely. Hi, my name’s Dale Savage and I’m a criminal defense attorney here in Charleston, South Carolina. And today we’re going to talk about the different types of expungements you can get depending on how your case was resolved.


When we’re talking about expungements, you’re talking about two different categories of cases. First is non- convictions, and the second one is convictions. Let’s start with non-convictions first, and the news for these types of cases is really good. Any case that resulted in you having a non-conviction qualifies for an expungement, and that means that it can get cleared from your criminal record. When you’re talking about a non-conviction, you’re talking about three types of ways that case was resolved. First is if the prosecutor dismissed your case for some reason. Next, if you are found not guilty, either in a bench trial or a jury trial. And the last one is if you successfully completed some type of diversionary program such as pretrial intervention, the alcohol education program or the traffic education program.

If your case was resolved under one of these three categories, then it does qualify for expungement. And the good news is, if your case was dismissed either because the prosecutor did so or that you’re found not guilty, there are no court fees associated with getting it expunged. If your case was dismissed because of a diversionary program, then there are some court fees associated with that.

Hide Your Mugshot

Many people are surprised to learn that even though their case was dismissed by the prosecutor, there’s still a public record of the arrest, the charge you’re arrested for, and if there was a mugshot taken during that booking process, that’s still available out there online as well. And that’s one of the main reasons, if not the most important reason why you would want to go ahead and expunge a non-conviction. It destroys from public view any record of that arrest, that type of charge, including the mugshot that was taken through that booking process.


The second set of cases in South Carolina is convictions, and unfortunately, in South Carolina, and most states for that matter, the availability of getting a conviction expunged is on very limited terms. And in South Carolina, the charges or the convictions that do qualify for expungement are zero to 30 day offenses, misdemeanor check fraud charges, domestic violence third degree charges, whether you were sentenced under a youthful offender act program, whether you were convicted of failure to stop for blue light first offense, or whether you were convicted of a possession with intent to distribute drug charge first offense.

If you were convicted under one of those charges, it does qualify for an expungement, however, there’s a number of criteria that have to be met before you can get it expunged, and let’s talk about those a little bit more. When we’re talking about any of these charges, to begin with you cannot have a pending charge at the time you make an application for an expungement. If you have a pending charge, even though that particular conviction qualifies for an expungement, you cannot apply for an expungement.

When Can You Expunge Your Case?

Now, when we’re talking about zero to 30 day offenses, there’s a three-year waiting period from the date of conviction before you can apply to get it expunged from your record. Domestic violence third degree cases have a three-year waiting period before it qualifies for an expungement. When we’re talking about misdemeanor check fraud charges, the waiting period from the date of conviction is one year. When we’re talking about failure to stop for blue light first offenses, the waiting period to get that expunged is three years. When we’re talking about charges where you’re convicted under the youthful offender act program, there’s a five-year waiting period from the completion of sentence before that qualifies for an expungement. And lastly, when it comes to possession with intent to distribute drug charges first offense, there’s a 20-year wait period from the date of completion of the sentence before that qualifies for an expungement.

Charleston, SC Expungement Attorney

So, if you’d like to find out whether your particular case qualifies for an expungement. Please give me a call at (843) 530-7813. I hope this video was helpful, and thanks for watching.

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