Industry News for Criminal Defense Law in Columbia, South Carolina


In South Carolina, a criminal record can be a significant obstacle in one’s life, affecting everything from employment opportunities to personal relationships. Fortunately, the legal process of expungement offers a way to clear such records, providing individuals with a fresh start. At Thompson and Hiller, we specialize in guiding clients through the process, helping them understand their rights and the legal pathways available for clearing their records.

What is Expungement?

Expungement in South Carolina refers to the legal process of erasing or sealing a criminal record from public view. This means that, once a record is expunged, it is as though the criminal conviction or charge never occurred. Expungement can be life-changing, offering individuals the chance to move forward without the burden of their past legal issues.

Types of Criminal Records That Can Be Expunged

In South Carolina, not all criminal records are eligible for expungement. Generally, certain first-time offenses, minor misdemeanors, and charges that did not lead to a conviction may be expunged. This includes some first-time drug offenses, minor in possession of alcohol, and non-violent crimes. However, serious offenses like violent crimes, DUIs, and certain drug offenses are typically not eligible.


The eligibility criteria in South Carolina are specific and vary depending on the nature of the offense. Common criteria include the completion of any sentence or probation period, a clean record for a specified period post-conviction, and that the offense is among those eligible. It’s important to note that the expungement of one offense does not automatically disqualify a person from seeking expungement for another eligible offense.

The Expungement Process

Navigating the expungement process can be complex, and it usually involves several steps:

  1. Eligibility Assessment: The first step is to determine whether your criminal record is eligible for expungement.
  2. Application: If eligible, an application for expungement must be filed with the appropriate South Carolina court.
  3. Review Process: The solicitor’s office reviews the application, and there may be a need for a court hearing.
  4. Final Decision: If the expungement is granted, the records are sealed or destroyed.
  5. Notice of Expungement: Once an expungement is granted, the relevant law enforcement agencies are notified to remove the records from their files. This ensures that the record will not appear in background checks.
  6. Confirmation: The client receives official confirmation that their record has been expunged, signifying the completion of the process. At Thompson and Hiller, our role is to assist clients at each step, ensuring that the application is accurately completed and advocating on their behalf if a hearing is required.

Throughout this journey, the role of legal counsel is invaluable. Lawyers at Thompson and Hiller help clients understand the nuances of the law, ensure all paperwork is correctly filed, represent clients during hearings, and follow up with law enforcement agencies to confirm the expungement has been executed.


The benefits of having a criminal record expunged in South Carolina are substantial. Post-expungement, individuals gain a clearer path to employment, as most employers conduct background checks. It also opens up opportunities for housing and education, areas where a criminal record can be a significant barrier. Furthermore, it can bring a sense of personal closure and relief, allowing individuals to move forward without the shadow of past mistakes.

Legally, once a record is expunged, an individual is not required to disclose their previous conviction in most situations, such as on job applications or rental agreements. This legal clean slate is a powerful step towards rebuilding one’s life.

Legal Implications Post-Expungement

It’s important to understand the legal implications after a record is expunged. In South Carolina, an expunged record is not accessible for most purposes. However, in certain situations, such as when applying for some professional licenses or for law enforcement positions, individuals may still need to disclose expunged convictions. It’s crucial to consult with legal counsel to understand these specific scenarios.


Understanding the process in South Carolina is the first step towards clearing a criminal record and embracing a new chapter in life. At Thompson and Hiller, we are committed to guiding our clients through this transformative process with professionalism and empathy. Our goal is to help our clients leave their past legal issues behind and look forward to a future full of possibilities.

If you or someone you know is seeking to expunge a criminal record in South Carolina, we encourage you to reach out for a consultation. Navigating the legal system can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone. With Thompson and Hiller, you have a team ready to support you every step of the way towards achieving a fresh start.