South Carolina Public Records
Following the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), individuals who wish to seek information in public records have the right to do so.
The law states explicitly that:
Except when prohibited by Section 30-4-40 or other state or federal laws, anyone has the right to access any public record of a public body and view, copy, or obtain an electronic copy of it under the conditions set forth concerning reasonable access.
This right does not extend to people serving a sentence of imprisonment in a state or county correctional facility in this state, in another state, or a federal correctional facility.
How to Search South Carolina Public Records
You can request public records from the state of South Carolina, whether you're a resident or non-resident.
To search and find public records in South Carolina, you can do so in one of three ways.
In-person requests may be made for recent minutes of meetings, crime reports under S.C. Code Ann. § 30-1-50(A)(8)), and any logs detailing the detainment of prisoners in a prison or jail. You can also make these requests in writing.
You may also make written requests for records by mail or email. The agency has a 15-day period to respond if you request by mail or email. You will receive no case number or tracking identification.
The agency does not have to ask why you're requesting a record. However, according to S.C. Code Ann. § 56-3-510, you must state your reason for a records request if you’re registering or licensing a vehicle.
South Carolina’s Law Enforcement Department
You'll need to visit the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Department for information on criminal cases. This site also allows you to perform background checks, review crime stats, and access the state's sex offender registry.
If you wish to view criminal records in the state, you can view the data on the site’s SLED CATCH arrest report.
To obtain information, you'll need the exact last name and first initial of the first name of the offender and his or her date of birth. You can also search by social security number if you have the number.
If the name and birth date are different from what is shown in the individual’s criminal record, your only option is to use the subject’s fingerprints. SLED only performs fingerprint background checks when required by law.
Are South Carolina Public Records Available Online?
Yes, you can access South Carolina public records online through one of the various portals.
For example, you may access records for the assessor's, tax collector's, and treasurer's offices through the portal NETRONLINE.
If you wish to receive South Carolina records for vital statistics, you can access them through southcarolina.staterecords.org. Through this portal, you can obtain public record information on marriages, inmates, divorces, deaths, births, bankruptcy, addresses, phones, and sex offender information.
You may also conduct a vital records search through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control or SCDHEC website.
Judicial cases are found by visiting the South Carolina courts' public index search page and clicking on the county.
You'll need to direct your browser to SLED, or the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Department website, for gleaning access to criminal cases.
You can also find court records, property deeds, licenses, or information on companies and corporations by clicking on the website SearchSystems.net. This directory allows you to search by counties or cities and also includes search data for birth, deaths, marriages, criminal cases, and sex offender information.
What Public Records Are Available in South Carolina?
You can gain information on a variety of public information in South Carolina. Some of the primary records include the following:
- Property records
- Sex offender information
- Crime statistics
- Court information
- Criminal case information
- Juvenile court information
- Company and corporations
- Tax information
Historic Records Available to the Public
If you're a historian or wish to retrieve historical information, you can do so at various sites.
For example, you can refer to the Online Records Index for old will transcripts and recorded Confederate information. Also, plats for state land grants are found here, as are older legislative documents, criminal court records, and properties recorded with the National Register.
Most of these documents are dated from 1782 to the late 19th century. You can also access school insurance photos that span from 1935 to 1952.
You can find old state agency records online through SCERA, or the South Carolina Electronic Records Archive.
Historic properties are listed online at SCHPR, the state's historic properties record archive.
What Records are Non-Public in South Carolina?
Some records are kept private in South Carolina. In these cases, confidentiality is paramount. The records include documentation and information about the following data:
- Abortions involving minors
- Juvenile records
- Terminations involving parental rights
- Court-ordered sealed records
- Records involving abuse and neglect
- All court records that the court has deemed confidential
- Orders of expungement and the related records
- Records and reports about a sexually violent predator (SVP)
*According to an amendment made to Section 44-63-140 of South Carolina's Code, an adopted child, now an adult over 18 years old, may receive a copy of their original birth certificate and any information about their adoption. This may be available if the original birth parent filled out the required form and consented to the certificate’s release. This law only applies to adoptees born in the state.
Types of Records Available in South Carolina
The following information breaks down the types of records you can access in South Carolina and the website you can visit for further details.
South Carolina Criminal Records
SLED allows you to check information on arrests and the charges, court findings, and sentencing. You can also check on releases and admission to state correctional facilities.
You can obtain a criminal history check through SLED. However, you need to make sure you have an exact match regarding the offender's name or have their social security number to access the information.
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in South Carolina :
Arrest Records and Warrants
Both sheriff's offices and police departments in the state maintain public databases where you can perform an arrest warrant search for active warrants. These searches are name-based.
While you can go to individual county sheriff's websites, the fastest way to extract the data is to go online and click on the SLED CATCH portal. CATCH, which stands for Citizens Access to Criminal Histories, assesses a $25.00 fee for each name-based criminal records search.
You can access information on the CATCH site that gives you details about the date and time of the arrest, the perpetrator's name, the arrest location, the charges filed, bail info, and mug shot. Most Wanted Lists are also available from some of the sheriff's offices.
Inmate and Jail Records
To access inmate and jail records quickly, visit https://southcarolina.staterecords.org/ to search for the data.
Jails and Prisons in South Carolina :
South Carolina Background Checks
You can go through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Department (SLED) site to obtain a criminal history background check.
You can also conduct a check at the https://southcarolina.staterecords.org/ website.
While employers and landlords may run background checks, they must do so carefully. For example, as a landlord in South Carolina, you cannot run a check on a potential tenant without their consent. Many rental agreements do not contain this provision.
Also, some employers must show care when conducting a criminal background check. For example, an ordinance in Columbia, South Carolina, warns employers not to perform a background check that is not job-related.
For example, suppose the employer makes a good faith determination that a check is necessary because of the sensitive nature of the job. In that case, they need to convey this decision to job applicants.
Criminal history checks include the case number, arrest date, charges, and whether the crime was a misdemeanor or felony. The disposition and disposition date are included as well as the sentence.
As an employer, you must report all new hires by law per South Carolina laws, Section 43-5-598 of the state's Code of Laws and 42 USC Sec. 653a. After the employee's first workday, employers must follow this process within 20 days. You can obtain further details at this link. You must input this info at South Carolina New Hire Reporting.
This information will also be used for employment background searches, which you can also do on E-Verify. To enroll in E-Verify, you'll need to visit this link. E-Verify helps prevent the hiring of unauthorized personnel.
To check an employment record, you can simply check with former employers about work dates and why the employee left the assignment. You should receive the employee's consent before you take this step.
You can also check with the applicant’s educational institution to learn more about their prior education.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Background Checks
The number of years you can go back when making a background check must fall in line, in South Carolina, with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and its seven-year lookback limits. For example, you cannot access records on arrests that did not lead to a conviction, or access liens, civil lawsuits, bankruptcies, or civil judgments that go back past seven years.
If you are seeking candidates for jobs that offer a minimum salary of $75,000 or more, then the lookback period does not apply. Also, no matter how old the conviction, criminal conviction information may be accessed anytime.
How to Find Sex Offender Information in South Carolina
You can find sex offender registry information by visiting the new system of SORT. You can receive information that gives you the offender’s name, address, and convictions.
This system is available through the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) by the Department of Justice in the U.S. A map is used so you can pinpoint the offender’s address.
South Carolina Public Vital Records
The best place to find out more about someone's vital records is by visiting the South Carolina Department of Health and Environment Control or SCDHEC website. This office oversees the state’s Public Health Statistics and Information Services.
This is the go-to vital records site for obtaining anything related to certificates for births, deaths, divorces, and marriages. You can also make changes to birth certificates on the site, such as adding a father's name to a certificate.
You'll need a photo I.D. to obtain a certificate, or the search will go unprocessed. You can get most certificates online, in-person, via mail, drop-off, or by phone. Online processing times are usually 5 to 7 days.
If you're seeking a divorce report, the site offers information spanning from July 1962 to December 2019.
To obtain a birth certificate, you must be at least 18 years of age, if you're named on the certificate, a parent listed on the certificate, or a legal guardian or representative.
Certificates for newborns are not mailed to parents. Therefore, you’re responsible for requesting the certificate.
You can also access vital records on SearchSystems.com.
Call the South Carolina Office of Vital Records at (803) 898-3630 should you have specific questions. You can also visit the office at 2600 Bull Street in Columbia, SC 29201.
Get instant access to vital records, as well, at the South Carolina State Records website.
South Carolina Court Records
To search court records in South Carolina, contact the County Clerk of Courts where a case was heard. You'll need to pay a fee before obtaining a court record.
You can make the search easier by visiting the South Carolina Judicial Branch website, which allows you to access court cases in all of the state’s counties. A public search page is featured that allows you to click on a county link.
The State Court System in South Carolina
You can get further details on cases heard by the state Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, and Trial Courts. Clerks of Courts are listed on the site and published and unpublished judicial opinions.
Courts in South Carolina :
Motor Vehicle Driving Records in South Carolina
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) manages driving services and provides driving records for the state.
Accessing Your Driving Points or Personal Driving Record
You can get the summary of your points for your driving record at no cost, or you may request a 3-year or 10-year driver's record for $6.00.
Requesting a Full Report on Another Driver
If you request a full report for another driver, you must receive the driver's consent first or show a specific reason for the request, as outlined under the 1994 Driver's Privacy Protection Act.
Uses for records of this nature may pertain to inquiries from government agencies, businesses, or insurance company investigations. This information may also be referenced for people obtaining a commercial driver's license or involved in court proceedings.
How to Obtain a Full Report
To obtain a full report, you must fill out SCDMV Form MV-70. Make sure you complete the form as completely as possible. Mail the form to the indicated address. If you are hearing impaired, you can obtain further information by phone at (803) 896-5000.
The mailing address for the SCDMV is P.O. Box 1498, Blythewood, SC 29016. In person, you can visit the main branch at 10311 Wilson Boulevard, Building C, in Blythewood.
When you fill out the form, you'll need to provide your driver's license number, the issue date of the driver's license, your social security number, and your date of birth.
Driving Infractions and Points
Driving records include information on infractions, such as parking tickets or speeding violations. Points are added to your driving record when you receive a ticket or violate a driving law.
For example, you are penalized 6 points if you are charged with passing a stopped school bus, you are charged for reckless driving, or you cause property damage after a hit-and-run. A speeding ticket over the limit of 10 mph or less earns 2 points, while speeding over 25 mph carries a penalty of 6 points.
If you fail to yield the right-of-way or drive on the wrong side of the road, your driving record accumulates 4 points. You won’t get any points for tickets issued as warnings.
If you accumulate 12 to 15 points, you'll receive a license suspension of 3 months, while 16 or 17 points leads to a 4-month suspension. Accumulating 18 or 19 points costs you your driving privileges for 5 months, while 20 or more points will suspend the use of your license for 6 months.
South Carolina License Plate Search
You can look up license plates in South Carolina online. Users can enter a license plate number or vehicle identification number (VIN) for a registered vehicle to learn more about the vehicle or obtain lien information.
You’ll need to visit South Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles inquiry application. This data includes the vehicle's registration expiration date and the year and make of the car.
South Carolina Property Records Search
The South Carolina Land records website allows you to search land deeds, with property descriptions, by county.
You can also obtain property records through the South Carolina State Records website.
Search for unclaimed property in South Carolina by visiting the State Treasurer’s website.
Links to Important Governmental Agencies in South Carolina
You can obtain records or find out information through certain state agencies. The following links represent prominent agencies.
Counties in South Carolina
Other Records in South Carolina
List of Content
- How to Search South Carolina Public Records
- Types of Records Available in South Carolina
- South Carolina Background Checks
- South Carolina Public Vital Records
- South Carolina Court Records
- Motor Vehicle Driving Records in South Carolina
- South Carolina License Plate Search
- South Carolina Property Records Search
- Links to Important Governmental Agencies in South Carolina
- Other Records