Advocating for clients in York, Lancaster and Chester Counties who are ready for a clean slate
There is nothing more stressful than being unable to clear your name and start your new future with a clean slate. Depending upon the crime and circumstances, you may have the option of an expungement or a pardon that will give you the freedom to pursue a more stable and meaningful future. Holland Law fights for the rights of clients so that they have a second chance at a better future. My criminal defense clients receive follow-up service, when the law permits, to have their records expunged or their sentence pardoned. Contact my office in Fort Mill or Rock Hill to learn more.
What's the difference between expungement and getting a pardon?
Under state law, an expungement allows a charge to be wiped clean from your criminal record as if it never existed. An expungement, also known as an Order for Destruction of Arrest Records, commands all records of your charge to be deleted from the files of each state agency that maintains that information. After a successful expungement, anytime your criminal record is pulled, that charge will no longer appear. It erases a mistake to give you a second chance.
When expungement isn't possible due to the crime and circumstances surrounding your conviction, you may qualify for a pardon. A pardon provides full forgiveness from all of the legal consequences of your crime and the conviction. If the crime you were convicted of doesn't qualify for expungement, a pardon is your only other avenue for relief.
Is it worth trying to expunge my record?
Yes, it is – especially if you're young. Background checks are for many reasons, and having a clean record can help with:
- College admissions
- Apartment rentals
- Professional licensing
- Weapons licensing
- Security clearances
- Family law and divorce court issues
Removing any expungable charge from your record has many positive effects in the long run.
How do I get my record expunged in South Carolina?
The process for expungement includes:
- Completing any requirements of eligibility
- Completing and filing the application along with required documentation and processing fee
- Issuance of an order by a judge
- Circulation of the order to state agencies
Getting a charge expunged can take some patience due to the number of agencies that have to process the order. You can do a background check on yourself for $25 after a couple of months to verify that your record has been expunged.
Records destroyed include your mug shot, fingerprints, the arrest and booking record, and any file related to your arrest and booking. Holland Law explains the process in full to potential clients during their initial consultation.
Do I need a criminal defense lawyer to get my record expunged?
Legally, no – you can do it on your own. But attempting to clean up your own record can be timely and costly, and more often than not, your requests will be denied. You wouldn't hire a plumber to fix the brakes on your car, right? You're better off hiring a lawyer to handle the expungement.
When you consult with me, I review your cases files and give you my honest opinion about your chances of expunging your record. Then, my office handles every aspect of filing the documentation, ensuring it gets where it needs to be as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Eligibility for expungement in South Carolina
While expungements are limited to certain minor crimes, there are a large number of citizens with charges on their record who are entitled to have them removed either due to the nature of the charge or because they have completed a qualifying program. You may seek an expungement when the following circumstances or convictions apply:
- Dismissed, no-billed, or nol prossed charges, and not guilty verdicts in General Sessions Court.
- Misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, including domestic violence 3rd degree.
- Failure to stop for a blue light.
- First offense for:
- Fraudulent check.
- Conditional discharge.
- Criminal domestic violence (CDV).
- Youthful Offender Act.
- Simple possession of a controlled substance.
- Possession with intent to distribute.
- Completing the SC Youth Challenge Academy and SC Jobs Challenge Program.
- Juvenile records.
- Successful completion of the:
- Pre-Trial Intervention Program.
- Traffic Education Program.
- Alcohol Education Program.
What rights get restored after getting a pardon in South Carolina?
While obtaining a pardon doesn't erase your criminal record, it can help restore certain rights a conviction strips away, and offer you a chance at returning to a normal life. A notation will also be placed on your record showing you have been pardoned.
Rights you'll see restored include the ability to:
- Obtain a professional license
- Hold a public office
- Vote in elections
- Serve on a jury
A pardon may also restore your right to own a gun in South Carolina, however that may hinge on other charges contained in your criminal record.
The pardon process can take the better part of a year so don't delay in seeking legal advice. After a review of your case, Holland Law will be able to determine whether you have a realistic chance of obtaining a pardon.
Qualifying for a pardon in South Carolina
After determining that you qualify to apply, the first step to obtaining a pardon in South Carolina is to complete and submit an application to the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Your application will be supported by letters of reference and a filing fee. From there, the process involves:
- Investigation by Agents in the county where the first offense occurred.
- A hearing by the Paroles and Pardons Board.
- Full payment of restitution must be made prior to a pardon being granted.
Additional pardon eligibility requirements that may apply
Depending upon your classification, different requirements will dictate whether you may be granted a pardon in addition to the application and investigation process. The requirements are as follows:
Probationers may be considered any time after discharge from supervision.
Parolees may be considered:
- Any time after successfully completing five years under supervision
- Any time after the discharge date and after successfully completing the maximum parole period, if less than five years
Persons discharged from a sentence may be considered any time after the date of discharge.
Inmates may be considered any time before parole eligibility upon proof of the most extraordinary circumstances; however it is the Board's decision as to whether the evidence demonstrates such circumstances.
Terminally ill inmates may be considered any time after diagnosis of an illness with a life expectancy of one year or less. The Board will decide whether if the evidence demonstrates a qualifying condition based on evidence, including statements by two doctors documenting your life expectancy.
Expungements and pardons can be complicated. While there are no guarantees that your application for pardon will be granted, your chances of success improve with the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Helping you clear your record to move into a brighter future
Preventing unnecessary delays in clearing a charge from your record or being pardoned can make a difference in being hired, seeing your children, or even securing a place to live in York, Lancaster, or Chester County. To schedule a consultation with Tom Holland at the Fort Mill office on Gold Hill Road, or the Rock Hill office on Oakland Avenue, please call holland Law at 803-590-6690, or reach out to me through my contact page.