Everyone makes mistakes, and we all deserve a second chance. Maybe you got a DUI when you were younger or you got picked up for simple drug possession charges, but now you have tried to put all of that behind you and chart a new course in life. Unfortunately, moving forward when you have a criminal history is not always easy.
Having a criminal record can haunt you in many ways. For one thing, a lot of employers will not hire someone if they have any history of run-ins with the law, even if what happened has absolutely nothing to do with the type of work you would be doing. It is not fair, but this is the way a lot of employers operate.
You may not be able to obtain certain professional licenses because of your criminal history either. For example, having a drunk driving conviction could prevent you from obtaining a commercial driver’s license, but even if you are able to get one, a transportation company may not be willing to hire you because you have an alcohol-related offense in your background.
Obtaining housing could be another issue. Landlords do not like to rent an apartment or house to someone with a criminal history, and people in your neighborhood may be less than welcoming if they find out about it. The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from adopting a broad policy of denying all prospective tenants with a criminal history, but a landlord can still look at your criminal background, and depending on the type of offense, they can still legally deny you housing as long as their policy is consistent among all applicants.
Having a criminal history can adversely impact your life in a number of other ways as well. These may include:
- Denial of a professional license application or renewal.
- Inability to obtain financing.
- Denial of admission to college or expulsion from the school you are attending.
Can I Get My Criminal History Expunged in South Carolina?
Under certain circumstances, it is possible in South Carolina to have your criminal record expunged. An expungement is a court order that directs the state agencies to seal or erase a criminal charge or conviction. This means that no one other than the FBI would be able to access your criminal history. Your record would still show up in the FBI database, but very few parties have access to it and it is unlikely to be an issue unless you apply for a government job with a high security clearance.
If you were charged for a crime but you were never convicted, this charge can be expunged from your record if it was dismissed or you were found not guilty. This is great news for those in this situation, but it is but important to note that an expungement does not happen automatically just because you were not convicted of the charge. You still need to file the proper paperwork with the court.
Criminal convictions can be expunged in South Carolina under the following circumstances:
- You successfully completed a pretrial intervention.
- It was a first-offense conviction for a crime that carries a penalty of no more than a $1,000 fine or 30 days in jail or both.
- You were sentenced to a “conditional discharge” for a charge of simple possession of marijuana.
- It was a first-offense conviction for passing a fraudulent check.
- It was a first-offense conviction for failure to stop for law enforcement.
- You were under the age of 25 and convicted of a nonviolent offense, and you were sentenced to probation or treatment.
The following criminal convictions do not qualify for expungement:
- Motor vehicle offenses (including DUI);
- Most hunting, fishing, and gaming charges;
- Most domestic violence charges; and
- Violent crimes such as assault and murder.
Even if your criminal conviction does not qualify for expungement, you may be able to obtain a pardon. Eligibility for a pardon is determined after a hearing in front of the Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole Services. Speak with your attorney about whether or not this may be a viable option in your case.
Contact Nowell Law Firm for Further Assistance
If you are interested in getting your criminal record expunged or you need assistance with any other type of criminal matter in South Carolina, the Nowell Law Firm is here to help. Message us online or contact our Spartanburg office today at (864) 469-2481 for a discreet and confidential consultation.