A new second chance law has passed in South Carolina, expanding the rights of people to get their criminal charges expunged. The South Carolina Second Chance Act amends the South Carolina Code of Laws 1976 and adds Section 17-22-935, which establishes the conditions for expungement. It will go into effect in December 2021. It also makes three other major changes to expunction statutes. Here are a few of those changes.
The law explains that you can apply for expungement if you were arrested and convicted of a misdemeanor offense within three years of the arrest. However, you must have no other convictions within those three years before you apply. This is because if you are convicted of a misdemeanor in the past, you may face a difficult time gaining access to jobs, housing, and education later.
An expungement is an order from a court that compel state agencies to destroy records related to the crime. It will also expunge any fingerprints or mug shots that accompany a conviction. Expungement will remove all traces of the charge from your record and make you appear to be a new person. The only exception is the FBI database, which is only accessible to a very small number of people, but is a minor issue for most people.
The South Carolina House passed the bill last year and the Senate is considering the same legislation. The bill targets low-level felonies and is aimed at improving the state’s workforce. Low-level felonies like shoplifting, receiving stolen goods, and drug charges without trafficking are eligible for expungement. The bill also requires that an individual first receive a pardon from the parole board. Until then, the new law may be a long way off.