When you face a criminal charge, which could range from drunk driving to murder, you are looking at acquiring a criminal record.
Even a first-time offense for DUI will likely have an adverse effect on many aspects of your life and your future. However, if a judge or jury determines that you are innocent, is there a way to erase that record?
South Carolina Law
According to Article 9, Title 17, Chapter 22 of the South Carolina Code, if the courts find you not guilty or if a prosecutor discharges the criminal offense or dismisses the charge against you, you may be able to have your record expunged. This means that authorities have to destroy any bench warrants, arrest and booking records, fingerprints and mug shots. No state, county or municipal agency may retain evidence related to the charge against you.
Although the criminal mark will be expunged from your record, it may not disappear altogether. Certain information will remain under seal for three years and 120 days, to include the following:
- The arrest and booking record
- Any bench warrants
- Fingerprints and mug shots
Furthermore, law enforcement agencies may keep information of this sort indefinitely in case there are future investigations, prosecutions or administrative hearings. There can be no public disclosure of the information unless there is a court order.
A favorable outcome
In addition to the mark on your record, the penalties for a crime can include heavy fines, jail time or a prison sentence. However, there are options, depending on the nature of your offense. The goal is to achieve as favorable an outcome for your case as possible, whether that is getting a traffic ticket dismissed or keeping you out of prison for a felony charge. Your hope is to go on with the plans you have for your future, and if you receive an expungement, you can look forward to doing just that.