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What Is Expungement?

What Is Expungement?

Criminal charges can affect employment, education, and future opportunities. While a criminal record may seem impossible to move on from, Floridians with a criminal record have the option to hide or remove their record from public view.


You can “hide” or “delete” your criminal record using two methods: sealing or expungement. The main difference between the two is that a sealed record still exists while expungement deletes all records of the arrest or criminal charge.

To seal a record in South Carolina, you can apply for a Certificate of Eligibility, a court order for record sealing. You may also speak with your county’s criminal court to find out if you qualify for record sealing if you don’t qualify for a court order.

In some cases, a criminal record is sealed automatically for certain dispositions, including the following:

  • A criminal record with no felony convictions
  • Charge dismissal by a judge
  • The charge was never filed
  • Acquittal from a judge
  • A not guilty verdict

If you have been found guilty or plead no contest to violations of the law, you don’t qualify for sealing. In fact, there are criminal convictions that automatically disqualify you from sealing eligibility.

Sealing a record doesn’t permanently delete it, but it does remove the record from public viewing.


Expunction is different from sealing because when a record is expunged, it’s deleted from public record. In other words, if you apply for a job and the interviewer asks if you have a criminal conviction, you can safely say you have not if the charge is expunged from your record.

There are certain situations where your expungement can’t be lawfully denied. Most government or healthcare jobs will not allow you to deny an expunged crime. Lawyers and guardians also cannot have criminal records of any kind, expunged or otherwise.

Different types of expungement apply to individual crimes or juvenile cases. For example, a person can apply for a Lawful Self-Defense Certificate of Eligibility if the state attorney or prosecutor validates that the individual justifiably used force in self-defense. In juvenile cases, expungement can apply to those who complete a juvenile diversion program for a misdemeanor.

Are There Crimes That Can’t be Expunged?

Some crimes are too serious for expunction. They are called dangerous crimes, and state and federal courts will not delete them from public records.

Crimes that can’t be sealed or expunged include the following:

  • Arson
  • Aggravated assault
  • Aggravated battery
  • Illegal use of explosives
  • Child abuse
  • Elder abuse
  • Aircraft piracy
  • Kidnapping
  • Homicide
  • Manslaughter
  • Sexual battery
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking
  • Lewd, lascivious, or indecent behavior in the presence of a child
  • Sexual assault of a minor
  • Burglary
  • Stalking
  • Domestic violence
  • Home invasion
  • Terrorism
  • Manufacturing substances in violation of state restrictions

Conspiracy to commit any of these crimes is also considered a dangerous criminal act. For those who qualify, expunction can be a fresh start.

Your Future Beyond a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, you know how frustrating it can be to move on. South Carolina does not provide much protection for those with a record, and employers are encouraged to use background checks in the hiring process.

Sealing and expungement can help you move past your criminal record and begin to take back your peace of mind. Filing for sealing or expunction is a complicated process, so you should call an attorney to determine what steps you need to take.

Contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC. today for more information.


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