It is common to have regrets from the past that you wish you could take back. This is especially common when it comes to being convicted of a crime. In these cases, you may be very eager to find a way to remove it from your criminal record. In South Carolina, there are specific scenarios in which you can remove crimes from your record, whether through an expungement or a pardon. Read on for the difference between these two options.

Expunging Your Record

When you wish to expunge your record, it is generally done through the local Solicitor’s Office. You submit an application, wait, and eventually receive a decision in the mail. A judge assesses the merit of your request, and if your expungement is approved, the judge will grant it by signing an order. This results in the charge being removed from your criminal history. Expungements are only permitted under specific circumstances and convictions. DUI convictions are never eligible for expungement. Some situations that may make you eligible for expungement include:

  • You have successfully completed a pretrial intervention program,
  • You were convicted of one of several specific offenses in the municipal court,
  • Your conviction is of a first offense fraudulent check,
  • You were granted a conditional discharge from a substance violation,
  • You were sentenced under the South Carolina Youthful Offender Act (depending on the offense), or
  • You have been charged with one of several specific offenses involving points violations of hunting/fishing privileges.

Clearly, this is not a comprehensive list. Understanding the specifics of expunging your record requires the consultation of a criminal defense attorney.


In contrast, pardons go through the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole. In this case, not only do you fill out an extensive application, you must also present your case at a hearing before a committee. Pardons are difficult to obtain and generally require a criminal defense attorney to represent you. The goal of a pardon is to restore a civil right that has been taken away because of a serious conviction, such as the right to bear arms or the right to run for public office. If you are pardoned, the crime is not removed from your record; instead, the pardon is added to your criminal history.

If you are interested in exploring your options for expungement or pardons, contact The De Bruin Law Firm for a criminal defense attorney in South Carolina. We can help you determine whether or not you are eligible and if it is worth it to pursue a case. Contact us today!