Second Chances

April is widely known as Second Chance Month. South Carolina’s expungement system allows for multiple charges to be expunged from a person’s criminal record, depending on the convictions. While the law is standard as to what can be expunged, the application process can differ based on the county where your conviction occurred.  Thus, we’ve put together a small checklist of considerations and documents to compile or prepare to obtain during this time that will be useful in any county.

  1. Obtain a copy of your criminal record: You may obtain your SLED report at www.sled.sc.gov.  There is a $25 fee for the record.
  2. Review your record for accuracy: Do you need an expungement? Is there an error on your report?
  3. Obtain your Disposition/Sentencing Sheet from the court where your conviction occurred: This document lists pertinent information such as what you were charged with, whether you were convicted, and the date of your arrests. Some counties require a certified copy of your disposition sheet to be attached to the expungement application.
  4. Search for the appropriate expungement application: The majority of applications can be found online, or you may call the Solicitor’s Office in the county where your conviction occurred.
  5. Gather important identification documents that you may need such as your driver’s license and social security card: While this is not a requirement for all counties, for some it is necessary to prove your identity.

What if your charges are not eligible for expungement? You may want to consider seeking a pardon. Below is a list of considerations and documents that you will need to obtain in completing this process.

  1. Obtain a copy of your SLED report.
  2. Obtain the official pardon application from the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. It can be found at www.dppps.sc.gov.
  3. Identify three individuals not related to you by blood or marriage and ask them to provide reference letters for you. Be sure that they are aware of your criminal record.
  4. List all charges that you wish to have pardoned. You may list every item on your criminal record.
  5. Be sure that you’ve completed all probation and parole and paid any restitution, fines or fees.
  6. Be mindful of the $100 fee that must be submitted with the application.
  7. Have the application notarized.

If you are uncertain of your eligibility for an expungement or pardon, or would like to determine which is necessary for your situation, you may contact South Carolina Legal Services at (888) 346-5592. You may also apply online for our services at www.sclegal.org.

Preventing Child Abuse

April has been designated as the National Child Abuse Prevention month in the United States since 1983.  However, the Coronavirus has raised new concerns about child abuse.  Schools have been closed since mid-March. Many parents have been laid off or are working from home. 

Many states, including South Carolina, have reported drastic decreases in child abuse reports since mid-March.  This isn’t because child abuse has declined.  Teachers, day-care workers, and health care providers are mandatory reporters of abuse.  Because schools are closed, teachers and others who normally see and report abuse can no longer do so. Also, many doctors are doing visits through video conferencing, reducing their ability to interact with children and discover abuse or neglect.   Clergy are also mandatory reporters and children are not going to church right now. 

The lack of reporting is concerning because it is likely that child abuse may have increased during this time.  Parents are stressed having to be locked down in a house with their children without a break, and parents are also teaching their kids while facing other stressors like job loss and financial instability.  The added stress for parents is more likely to lead to reactions toward children that may be abusive. 

During this current crisis, it is now very important to report suspected child abuse or neglect.  If you suspect that a child is being abused or neglected, you should contact local law enforcement and request a welfare check on the child. Law enforcement officers are mandated reporters who can investigate your suspicions and contact the S.C. Department of Social Services if warranted. All reports of suspected abuse or neglect must be made in good faith. You may also report anonymously to the S.C. Department of Social Services by visiting https://dss.sc.gov/abuseneglect/.  Finally, reports can also be made by calling the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.