Cleaning up your past, experts explain clearing criminal records

Cleaning up your past, experts explain clearing criminal records

MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - About 70 people came through the doors to learn how a criminal record can be cleared.

"The advantage of an expungement is when you go and fill out a job application on that little line where it says have you ever been convicted of a crime, you can legally say no," explains Peter O'Boyle, the director of public information for the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

An expungement allows arrests, charges and certain criminal convictions to be removed from a record as if it never happened. They are handled by the solicitor's office.

"Youthful offender act convictions, bad check charges, and in some cases criminal domestic violence convictions can be expunged after a waiting period," says O'Boyle.

"Any charge that a person is found not guilty for or the charge is dismissed or nolle prossed can be expunged off your record," says attorney David Aylor.

Pardons are for convictions that cannot be cleared. Aylor says these are, usually, felony convictions. They are handled by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services.

"Generally speaking, if you have a felony conviction, more often than not, is going to end up being a situation where you are going look for a pardon," explains Aylor.

"When you get to that line on your job application, have you ever been convicted of a crime, if you have a pardon you still have to say yes, but you can add onto there I obtained a pardon," says O'Boyle.

O'Boyle says a pardon is more about principal and forgiveness.

"They say I want that pardon. I've got that certificate. It's society's way of saying I forgive you of the legal consequences."

In both cases, the process takes time and depends on the nature of the arrest or conviction. O'Boyle says pardons take more time because thorough background checks are done and the pardon board is inundated with requests.