BEAUFORT COUNTY

Workshop to help people clear criminal records

achristnovich@islandpacket.comAugust 22, 2012 

COURTESY OF MORGUEFILE.COM

  • Want to go?

    A workshop to help people learn how to expunge their criminal records or request pardons will be at 10 a.m. Friday in the Disabilities and Specials Needs building at 100 Clearwater Way in Beaufort.

Got a minor violation you want removed from the courthouse files?

A workshop Friday will help you learn how to expunge your criminal records or request pardons.

An attorney with the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office and an agent from the S.C. Department of Parole, Probation and Pardon Services will answer questions, detail which offenses qualify and explain how to apply for expungement or pardon.

The workshop starts at 10 a.m. at the Disabilities and Special Needs building in Beaufort.

An expungement, which removes violations from public record, can be granted to those with minor magistrate or municipal violations, such as simple drug possession or writing bad checks, according to state law. Traffic violations and more serious crimes, however, don't qualify, Solicitor Duffie Stone said.

Pardons, which forgive a criminal record entirely, can be granted by the state Board of Parole and Pardons for any offense, including major crimes, according to Department of Parole, Probation and Pardon spokesman Peter O'Boyle.

The time elapsed since a charge and the total number of offenses on a record are the main factors that determine whether expungement or a pardon is granted. Typically, three to five years must pass without further charges for municipal or magistrate-level offenses to be expunged.

Expungement is primarily meant to help one-time offenders, O'Boyle said.

"(Expungement) is a big deal for someone who commits a low-level drug crime in their youth," he said. "It's only good for a limited number of convictions -- low-level misdemeanors and a few other categories."

The Solicitor's Office processes about 600 expungement requests a year, Stone said. Estimates on the number of approved requests were not available Wednesday.

Applying for a pardon or expungement of a convicted crime costs as much as $310. There is no fee to request expungement for an offense that did not result in a conviction.

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