South Carolina General Assembly
120th Session, 2013-2014

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A276, R320, H4560

STATUS INFORMATION

General Bill
Sponsors: Reps. G.M. Smith and Weeks
Document Path: l:\council\bills\swb\5065ahb14.docx

Introduced in the House on January 23, 2014
Introduced in the Senate on March 5, 2014
Last Amended on June 5, 2014
Passed by the General Assembly on June 5, 2014
Governor's Action: June 9, 2014, Signed

Summary: Expungement of criminal records

HISTORY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

     Date      Body   Action Description with journal page number
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   1/23/2014  House   Introduced and read first time (House Journal-page 30)
   1/23/2014  House   Referred to Committee on Judiciary 
                        (House Journal-page 30)
    2/4/2014          Scrivener's error corrected
   2/26/2014  House   Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary 
                        (House Journal-page 55)
   2/27/2014  House   Member(s) request name added as sponsor: Weeks
    3/4/2014  House   Amended (House Journal-page 118)
    3/4/2014  House   Read second time (House Journal-page 118)
    3/4/2014  House   Roll call Yeas-106  Nays-0 (House Journal-page 123)
    3/5/2014          Scrivener's error corrected
    3/5/2014  House   Read third time and sent to Senate 
                        (House Journal-page 15)
    3/5/2014  Senate  Introduced and read first time (Senate Journal-page 10)
    3/5/2014  Senate  Referred to Committee on Judiciary 
                        (Senate Journal-page 10)
   3/25/2014  Senate  Referred to Subcommittee: Hutto (ch), Corbin, Young
   5/21/2014  Senate  Committee report: Favorable with amendment Judiciary 
                        (Senate Journal-page 18)
   5/22/2014          Scrivener's error corrected
   5/22/2014  Senate  Committee Amendment Amended and Adopted 
                        (Senate Journal-page 58)
   5/22/2014  Senate  Read second time (Senate Journal-page 58)
   5/22/2014  Senate  Roll call Ayes-39  Nays-0 (Senate Journal-page 58)
   5/23/2014          Scrivener's error corrected
   5/27/2014  Senate  Read third time and returned to House with amendments 
                        (Senate Journal-page 14)
   5/29/2014  House   Amended (House Journal-page 34)
   4/29/2014  House   Roll call Yeas-98  Nays-0 (House Journal-page 34)
   5/29/2014  House   Returned to Senate with amendments 
                        (House Journal-page 34)
    6/3/2014  Senate  Non-concurrence in House amendment 
                        (Senate Journal-page 55)
    6/3/2014  House   House insists upon amendment and conference committee 
                        appointed Reps. GM Smith, Rutherford, McCoy 
                        (House Journal-page 38)
    6/4/2014  Senate  Conference committee appointed Masey, Allen, Thurmond 
                        (Senate Journal-page 81)
    6/5/2014  House   Free conference powers granted (House Journal-page 87)
    6/5/2014  House   Roll call Yeas-98  Nays-0 (House Journal-page 87)
    6/5/2014  House   Free conference committee appointed GM Smith, 
                        Rutherford, McCoy (House Journal-page 88)
    6/5/2014  House   Free conference report received and adopted 
                        (House Journal-page 106)
    6/5/2014  House   Roll call Yeas-87  Nays-0 (House Journal-page 112)
    6/5/2014  Senate  Free conference powers granted (Senate Journal-page 59)
    6/5/2014  Senate  Free conference committee appointed Massey, Allen, 
                        Thurmond (Senate Journal-page 59)
    6/5/2014  Senate  Free conference report adopted (Senate Journal-page 59)
    6/5/2014  Senate  Ordered enrolled for ratification 
                        (Senate Journal-page 67)
    6/9/2014          Ratified R 320
    6/9/2014          Signed By Governor
   6/13/2014          Effective date 06/09/14
   6/26/2014          Act No. 276

View the latest legislative information at the website

VERSIONS OF THIS BILL

1/23/2014
2/4/2014
2/26/2014
3/4/2014
3/5/2014
5/21/2014
5/22/2014
5/22/2014-A
5/23/2014
5/29/2014
6/5/2014


(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

(A276, R320, H4560)

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 17-1-40, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO DESTRUCTION OR EXPUNGEMENT OF CERTAIN ARREST AND BOOKING RECORDS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, SO AS TO DEFINE THE TERM "UNDER SEAL", TO PROVIDE IN THE CASE OF OFFENSES EXPUNGED FOR THE RETENTION BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND PROSECUTION AGENCIES OF ARREST AND BOOKING RECORDS, ASSOCIATED BENCH WARRANTS, INCIDENT REPORTS, AND OTHER INFORMATION UNDER SEAL FOR THREE YEARS AND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY DAYS AND ALLOW FOR THEIR INDEFINITE RETENTION FOR CERTAIN DELINEATED PURPOSES, TO PROVIDE THAT THIS INFORMATION IS NOT A PUBLIC DOCUMENT AND IS EXEMPT FROM DISCLOSURE EXCEPT BY COURT ORDER, TO AUTHORIZE REDACTION OF CERTAIN INFORMATION IN AN INCIDENT REPORT IF A REQUEST IS MADE TO INSPECT OR OBTAIN AN INCIDENT REPORT PURSUANT TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT, AND TO PROVIDE A CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR PERSONS WHO VIOLATE PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE RELEASE OF AN INCIDENT REPORT; TO AMEND SECTION 22-5-910, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS, SO AS TO INCLUDE ASSOCIATED BENCH WARRANTS IN THE INFORMATION THAT MAY BE EXPUNGED; TO AMEND SECTION 17-22-910, RELATING TO APPLICATIONS FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES ELIGIBLE FOR EXPUNGEMENT, SO AS TO CONFORM THE PROVISIONS TO THAT OF SECTION 44-53-450 WHICH ALLOWS FOR EXPUNGEMENT OF CERTAIN DELINEATED DRUG OFFENSES; TO AMEND SECTION 17-22-940, RELATING TO THE EXPUNGEMENT PROCESS, SO AS TO INCLUDE THE TRAFFIC EDUCATION PROGRAM DIRECTOR'S PARTICIPATION IN THE PROCESS; AND TO AMEND SECTION 17-22-950, RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF EXPUNGEMENT ORDERS, SO AS TO MAKE A CONFORMING CHANGE TO ADD THAT ASSOCIATED BENCH WARRANTS ARE INCLUDED IN THE EXPUNGEMENT ORDER AND TO PROVIDE EXPUNGEMENT PROCEDURES WHEN CRIMINAL CHARGES ARE BROUGHT IN SUMMARY COURT WHEN THE PERSON WAS NOT FINGERPRINTED.

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:

Expungement, retention of certain information by law enforcement or prosecution agencies

SECTION    1.    Section 17-1-40 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 75 of 2013, is further amended to read:

"Section 17-1-40.    (A)    For purposes of this section, 'under seal' means not subject to disclosure other than to a law enforcement or prosecution agency, and attorneys representing a law enforcement or prosecution agency, unless disclosure is allowed by court order.

(B)(1)    If a person's record is expunged pursuant to Article 9, Title 17, Chapter 22, because the person was charged with a criminal offense, or was issued a courtesy summons pursuant to Section 22-3-330 or another provision of law, and the charge was discharged, proceedings against the person were dismissed, or the person was found not guilty of the charge, then the arrest and booking record, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person must be destroyed and no evidence of the record pertaining to the charge or associated bench warrants may be retained by any municipal, county, or state agency. Provided, however, that:

(a)    Law enforcement and prosecution agencies shall retain the arrest and booking record, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person under seal for three years and one hundred twenty days. A law enforcement or prosecution agency may retain the information indefinitely for purposes of ongoing or future investigations and prosecution of the offense, and to defend the agency and the agency's employees during litigation proceedings. The information must remain under seal. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure, except by court order.

(b)    Detention and correctional facilities shall retain booking records, identifying documentation and materials, and other institutional reports and files under seal, on all persons who have been processed, detained, or incarcerated, for a period not to exceed three years and one hundred twenty days from the date of the expungement order to manage the facilities' statistical and professional information needs, and to defend the facilities and the facilities' employees during litigation proceedings, except when an action, complaint, or inquiry has been initiated. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure, except by court order.

(2)    A municipal, county, or state agency, or an employee of a municipal, county, or state agency that intentionally violates this subsection is guilty of contempt of court.

(3)    Nothing in this subsection requires the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to expunge the probation records of persons whose charges were dismissed by conditional discharge pursuant to Section 44-53-450.

(C)(1)    If a person's record is expunged pursuant to Article 9, Title 17, Chapter 22, because the person was charged with a criminal offense, or was issued a courtesy summons pursuant to Section 22-3-330 or another provision of law, and the charge was discharged, proceedings against the person were dismissed, or the person was found not guilty of the charge, then law enforcement and prosecution agencies shall retain the evidence gathered, unredacted incident and supplemental reports, and investigative files under seal for three years and one hundred twenty days. A law enforcement or prosecution agency may retain the information indefinitely for purposes of ongoing or future investigations, other law enforcement or prosecution purposes, and to defend the agency and the agency's employees during litigation proceedings. The information must remain under seal. The information is not a public document, is exempt from disclosure, except by court order, and is not subject to an order for destruction of arrest records.

(2)    If a request is made to inspect or obtain the incident reports pursuant to the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act, the law enforcement agency shall redact the name of the person whose record is expunged and other information which specifically identifies the person from copies of the reports provided to the person or entity making the request.

(3)    If a person other than the person whose record is expunged is charged with the offense, a prosecution agency may provide the attorney representing the other person with unredacted incident and supplemental reports. The attorney shall not provide copies of the reports to a person or entity nor share the contents of the reports with a person or entity, except during judicial proceedings or as allowed by court order.

(4)    A person who intentionally violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.

(5)    Nothing in this subsection prohibits evidence gathered or information contained in incident reports or investigation and prosecution files from being used for the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case or for the defense of a law enforcement or prosecution agency or agency employee.

(D)    A municipal, county, or state agency may not collect a fee for the destruction of records pursuant to this section.

(E)(1)    This section does not apply to a person who is charged with a violation of Title 50, Title 56, or an enactment pursuant to the authority of counties and municipalities provided in Titles 4 and 5.

(2)    If a charge enumerated in item (1) is discharged, proceedings against the person are dismissed, the person is found not guilty of the charge, or the person's record is expunged pursuant to Article 9, Title 17, Chapter 22, the charge must be removed from any Internet-based public record no later than thirty days from the disposition date.

(F)    The State Law Enforcement Division is authorized to promulgate regulations that allow for the electronic transmission of information pursuant to this section.

(G)    Unless there is an act of gross negligence or intentional misconduct, nothing in this section gives rise to a claim for damages against the State, a state employee, a political subdivision of the State, an employee of a political subdivision of the State, a public officer, or other persons."

Expungement, associated bench warrants included

SECTION    2.    Section 22-5-910 of the 1976 Code, as last amended by Act 75 of 2013, is further amended to read:

"Section 22-5-910.    (A)    Following a first offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of one thousand dollars, or both, the defendant after three years from the date of the conviction, including a conviction in magistrates or general sessions court, may apply, or cause someone acting on his behalf to apply, to the circuit court for an order expunging the records of the arrest and conviction and any associated bench warrant. However, this section does not apply to:

(1)    an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle;

(2)    a violation of Title 50 or the regulations promulgated pursuant to Title 50 for which points are assessed, suspension provided for, or enhanced penalties for subsequent offenses are authorized; or

(3)    an offense contained in Chapter 25, Title 16, except first offense criminal domestic violence as contained in Section 16-25-20, which may be expunged five years from the date of the conviction.

(B)    If the defendant has had no other conviction during the three-year period, or during the five-year period as provided in subsection (A)(3), following the first offense conviction for a crime carrying a penalty of not more than thirty days imprisonment or a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or both, including a conviction in magistrates or general sessions court, the circuit court may issue an order expunging the records including any associated bench warrant. No person may have his records expunged under this section more than once. A person may have his record expunged even though the conviction occurred prior to June 1, 1992.

(C)    After the expungement, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division is required to keep a nonpublic record of the offense and the date of the expungement to ensure that no person takes advantage of the rights of this section more than once. This nonpublic record is not subject to release pursuant to Section 34-11-95, the Freedom of Information Act, or any other provision of law except to those authorized law or court officials who need to know this information in order to prevent the rights afforded by this section from being taken advantage of more than once.

(D)    As used in this section, 'conviction' includes a guilty plea, a plea of nolo contendere, or the forfeiting of bail."

Expungement, certain drug offenses eligible for expungement

SECTION    3.    Section 17-22-910 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 17-22-910.    Applications for expungement of all criminal records must be administered by the solicitor's office in each circuit in the State as authorized pursuant to:

(1)    Section 34-11-90(e), first offense misdemeanor fraudulent check;

(2)    Section 44-53-450(b), conditional discharge;

(3)    Section 22-5-910, first offense conviction in magistrates court;

(4)    Section 22-5-920, youthful offender act;

(5)    Section 56-5-750(f), first offense failure to stop when signaled by a law enforcement vehicle;

(6)    Section 17-22-150(a), pretrial intervention;

(7)    Section 17-1-40, criminal records destruction, except as provided in Section 17-22-950;

(8)    Section 20-7-8525, juvenile expungements;

(9)    Section 17-22-530(a), alcohol education program;

(10)    Section 17-22-330(A), traffic education program; and

(11)    any other statutory authorization."

Expungement, traffic education program directors included

SECTION    4.    Section 17-22-940(E) of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"(E)    In cases when charges are sought to be expunged pursuant to Section 17-22-150(a), 17-22-530(a), 22-5-910, or 44-53-450(b), the circuit pretrial intervention director, alcohol education program director, traffic education program director, or summary court judge shall attest by signature on the application to the eligibility of the charge for expungement before either the solicitor or his designee and then the circuit court judge, or the family court judge in the case of a juvenile, signs the application for expungement."

Expungement, court orders to include associated bench warrants, summary court expungement procedures

SECTION    5.    Section 17-22-950 of the 1976 Code is amended to read:

"Section 17-22-950.    (A)(1) When criminal charges are brought in a summary court and the accused person is found not guilty or if the charges are dismissed or nolle prossed, pursuant to Section 17-1-40, the presiding judge of the summary court, at no cost to the accused person, immediately shall issue an order to expunge the criminal records, including any associated bench warrants, of the accused person unless the dismissal of the charges occurs at a preliminary hearing or unless the accused person has charges pending in summary court and a court of general sessions and such charges arise out of the same course of events. This expungement must occur no sooner than the appeal expiration date and no later than thirty days after the appeal expiration date. Except as provided in item (2), upon issuance of the order, the judge of the summary court or a member of the summary court staff must coordinate with SLED to confirm that the criminal charge is statutorily appropriate for expungement; obtain and verify the presence of all necessary signatures; file the completed expungement order with the clerk of court; provide copies of the completed expungement order to all governmental agencies which must receive the order including, but not limited to, the arresting law enforcement agency, the detention facility or jail, the solicitor's office, the magistrates or municipal court where the arrest or bench warrant originated, the magistrates or municipal court that was involved in any way in the criminal process of the charge or bench warrant sought to be expunged, and SLED. The judge of the summary court or a member of the summary court staff also must provide a copy of the completed expungement order to the applicant or his retained counsel. The prosecuting agency or appropriate law enforcement agency may file an objection to a summary court expungement. If an objection is filed by the prosecuting agency or law enforcement agency, that expungement then must be heard by the judge of a general sessions court. The prosecuting agency's or the appropriate law enforcement agency's reason for objecting must be that the:

(a)    accused person has other charges pending;

(b)    prosecuting agency or the appropriate law enforcement agency believes that the evidence in the case needs to be preserved; or

(c)    accused person's charges were dismissed as a part of a plea agreement.

(2)    If criminal charges are brought in a summary court and the accused person is found not guilty, or the charges are dismissed or nolle prossed pursuant to Section 17-1-40, and the person was not fingerprinted for the violation, then, upon issuance of the order, the summary court shall coordinate with the arresting law enforcement agency to confirm that the person was not fingerprinted for the violation; obtain and verify all necessary signatures; and provide copies of the completed expungement order to the arresting law enforcement agency and all summary courts that were involved in the criminal process of the charges. The summary court is not required to provide copies of the completed expungement order to SLED. All summary courts that were involved in the criminal process of the charges shall destroy all documentation related to the charges, including, but not limited to, removing the charges from Internet-based public records. All other provisions of subsection (A)(1) apply.

(B) If the prosecuting agency or the appropriate law enforcement agency objects to an expungement order being issued pursuant to subsection (A)(1)(b), the prosecuting agency or appropriate law enforcement agency must notify the accused person of the objection. This notice must be given in writing at the address listed on the accused person's bond form, or through his attorney, no later than thirty days after the person is found not guilty or his charges are dismissed or nolle prossed."

Time effective

SECTION    6.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

Ratified the 9th day of June, 2014.

Approved the 9th day of June, 2014.

__________


This web page was last updated on August 8, 2014 at 9:44 AM