In mid-July 2018, a modification to South Carolina expungement law went into effect. This modification may make job seeking easier for some. The change will allow someone to expunge an offense (or several connected offenses) if it carries a sentence of 30 days’ jail time or less. They must also be able to demonstrate good behavior afterward. However, many South Carolina workers are unaware of this, and thus may miss out on a chance to take advantage of the law’s new options and improve their ability to get a job.
“Increasing The Workforce”
The law as it had been written permitted expungement of a person’s first offense, as long as it was considered “low-level” and carried a sentence of 30 days or less—once the person had shown a period of good behavior. The changes that recently came into effect now permit that the offense does not have to be one’s first. Also, the option is now available to expunge multiple offenses that were sentenced at the same hearing if it can be shown that they are “closely connected.”
Governor Henry McMaster originally vetoed the bill, arguing that he did not wish to take choice away from employers. But South Carolina’s legislature, in an unusual move, overrode the governor’s veto. Supporters focused on their intention of trying to increase the state’s workforce, which has been shrinking in recent years for a variety of reasons. Expungement of nonviolent crimes can help a released prisoner obtain employment, which is often the first and most effective bulwark against recidivism.
Can I Have My Record Expunged?
Expungement is when a conviction or offense with an alternative disposition (such as court supervision or probation) is erased in the eyes of the law. This is different than having one’s record merely sealed, because certain entities like law enforcement and some employers are still generally able to view sealed records. Expungement effectively erases an offense in all but the rarest exceptions, so as to give the person a new start. It has been hailed as a significant factor in avoiding recidivism, with statistics showing a marked decline in released prisoners committing crime if they are able to find work.
If you have committed a ‘low-level’ offense that is nonviolent and you are able to demonstrate good behavior upon release from incarceration, you stand a good chance of being able to have your record expunged. But South Carolina expungement can be very difficult to do alone. If you are unsuccessful, you may still face discrimination and hardship, even after you have completed your sentence. It is best to consult an attorney to discuss the matter.
Seek Out Experienced Legal Help
If you have a criminal record and are looking for work, it can be helpful to consult an employment law attorney. An experienced attorney can help make certain you understand what your rights are and what rights an employer has during the hiring process. Attorney A. Christopher Potts can sit down with you and try to answer your questions about employment law and your chances moving forward. Contact Hitchcock & Potts today to set up an appointment.