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South Carolina Arrest Records

In South Carolina, law enforcement agencies maintain records of individuals arrested for criminal offenses. These records are known as South Carolina Arrest Records. Generally, an arrest record is created by the police following a person's apprehension, and if the individual is found guilty, it becomes a part of their South Carolina Criminal Records.

Some of the information that these records may include are:

  • Full name and any aliases used
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Physical description, such as height, weight, and hair/eye color
  • Mugshot or booking photo
  • Fingerprints
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Details about the committed offense(s)
  • Charges filed
  • Bail or bond information
  • Court dates and appearances
  • Disposition of the case, including whether the individual was found guilty or not guilty, and any penalties or sentences imposed

Employers, landlords, and other interested parties can use arrest records in South Carolina to conduct background checks on individuals. Law enforcement agencies can also use these records during investigations, and prosecutors can use them in court proceedings.

However, it is essential to note that arrest records do not necessarily indicate guilt, and individuals arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

South Carolina Arrest Records are public records under the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The FOIA grants the public the right to access government records, including arrest records, upon request. This law promotes transparency and accountability in government by allowing citizens to access information about the actions of public officials and agencies.

However, certain types of information, such as personal identifying information, may be redacted or restricted following state and federal privacy laws.

What Laws Govern Arrests in South Carolina?

The South Carolina Criminal Procedure Laws provide a comprehensive framework for the arrest process In the state. These laws safeguard the rights of citizens and law enforcement officers and guarantee that arrests are conducted fairly and justly.

In various situations, South Carolina police officers have the authority to make arrests. It includes circumstances in which an officer possesses a warrant, encounters a parole or probation violator, or witnesses an individual committing a crime.

In addition, an officer can make an arrest based on information or probable cause indicating a felony has been committed, even if the officer was not present during the commission of the offense. A law enforcement officer can also arrest if a suspect is fleeing from a crime scene.

In this state, law enforcement officers, including state troopers, local police officers, sheriffs, and their deputies, are authorized to make arrests. Out-state officers may also make arrests when pursuing a suspect who crosses state lines. Furthermore, private citizens may arrest if they witness a felony or theft, subject to stringent laws governing the arresting circumstances.

In addition to the requirement for probable cause, South Carolina's arrest laws specify the procedures that law enforcement officers must follow during an arrest.

For example, law enforcement officers must use only the necessary force to effect the arrest. They cannot use excessive force or take actions likely to cause severe injury or death unless required to defend themselves or others.

After making an arrest, law enforcement officers must advise the arrested person of their Miranda rights, including the right to remain silent and an attorney. The purpose of the Miranda warning is to ensure that the person understands their legal rights and can make informed decisions about whether to speak with law enforcement officers.

What Is the Arrest Booking Process in South Carolina?

The arrest booking process in South Carolina is necessary for the criminal justice system. It involves procedures that law enforcement officers follow when processing an arrestee.

The purpose of the arrest booking process is to record and document information about an arrestee. It also ensures that the arrestee's constitutional rights are protected and treated humanely and fairly.

The arrest booking process in South Carolina typically involves several steps. These steps may vary slightly depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the arrest, but they generally include the following:


The first step in the booking process is identifying the arrestee. It involves obtaining the arrestee's name, address, date of birth, and other identifying information.

Photographs and Fingerprinting

The law enforcement officers will take pictures and fingerprints of the arrestee as the next step. They will add these images to the arrest record and utilize them for identification.

Property and Evidence

Law enforcement officers may take the arrestee's personal property and any evidence related to the arrest. This property and evidence will be processed and stored for safekeeping.

Medical Screening

Law enforcement officers may conduct a medical screening of the arrestee to ensure that no immediate medical concerns require attention. It is an important measure taken to safeguard the health and well-being of the arrestee.

As part of standard procedure, law enforcement officials may perform a full body search of the arrestee to prevent possessing any potential weapons, illegal substances, or other prohibited items.


Upon completing the booking process in South Carolina, the arrested person will typically be held in a detention facility pending their first court appearance. The length of time that a person will remain in custody depends on several factors, including the nature of the offense, the individual's criminal history, and the availability of bail.

What Are South Carolina Mugshot Records?

Often part of the South Carolina Arrest Records, mugshot records are photographic records taken by law enforcement agencies of individuals arrested and charged with a crime.

The mugshot typically includes a photograph of the individual's head and shoulders, along with basic identifying information such as name, date of birth, and the charges against them.

Law enforcement agencies and other government entities often use these records for identification, as they are essential to a person's criminal history.

Mugshot records can also be helpful for various purposes, including conducting background checks on potential employees, tenants, or partners.

However, it's essential to remember that having a mugshot on record does not necessarily mean an individual has been convicted of a crime. In some cases, individuals may be arrested and later cleared of wrongdoing, but their mugshot remains on record.

South Carolina Mugshot Records are generally considered public and accessible at various locations, including the sheriff's office, police record department, and court clerk's office in the county where the arrest occurred. It is best to contact these offices directly to inquire about the availability of mugshot records and any associated fees or requirements for accessing them.

Lastly, individuals can check for mugshot records through various online databases, such as the Inmate Search tool provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) and the Sex Offender Registry of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

The Inmate Search tool allows users to search for inmates in custody, while the Sex Offender Registry provides information on registered sex offenders.

How Long Does an Arrest Record Stay in South Carolina?

The Records Management Division of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History is responsible for developing general retention schedules for the state's agencies and municipalities. These schedules provide the legal minimum retention of how long various categories of arrest records must be on file.

The retention periods for original arrest records held by county sheriffs are in the General Records Retention Schedules for County Records. These schedules are formulated based on Chapter 12, Article 5 of the South Carolina Code of Regulations.

Under the General Records Retention Schedules for County Records, the sheriff's office's criminal history records, which comprise the cumulative history of anyone apprehended for a crime, stay on file until the subject dies or reaches the age of 75.

On the other hand, its booking reports that document individuals' arrests and bookings stay on file for ten years. In contrast, they retain arrest cards for five years, which serve as an official record of arrests.

For mugshots or photographs of individuals apprehended and charged, the sheriff's office keeps them until they become obsolete or lose value.

Lastly, the department can keep juvenile arrest records for three years until the subject's 18th birthday.

Municipal law enforcement agencies, such as police departments, have similar retention schedules based on the General Records Retention Schedules for Municipal Records.

Note that those mentioned above are only general guidelines that South Carolina agencies may use to determine how long to keep and when to dispose of their official records. Still, state laws allow agencies to establish their specific retention schedules.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record in South Carolina

A person's arrest record is not indicative of criminal culpability. However, this typically does not prevent the public from perceiving it as such. Consequently, a person with an arrest record may find it difficult to obtain employment, a loan, or housing.

South Carolina enacts expungement laws to mitigate the adverse effects of an arrest record and provide ex-offenders with a second chance. An expungement in South Carolina removes arrest and conviction records from a person's criminal history.

However, only the South Carolina Arrest Records specified in the Uniform Expungement of Criminal Records Act are eligible for state expungement. Generally, the following are eligible for arrest or criminal record expungement in South Carolina:

  • Charges dismissed, not prosecuted, and not guilty verdicts
  • Upon successful completion of the Pre-Trial Intervention Program, Traffic Education Program, and Alcohol Education Program
  • Conviction of an offense carrying a maximum penalty of up to a $1,000 fine, 30 days in jail, or both, provided three years have passed with no other convictions occurring (five years for first-degree domestic violence)
  • Possession of drugs for the first offense with the defendant receiving and completing a conditional discharge
  • First-offense simple possession of a controlled substance provided that no additional convictions occurred within three years after the completion of the sentence
  • First-offense possession with the intent to distribute, provided that no subsequent convictions occurred within 20 years after the completion of the sentence
  • A first-offense misdemeanor conviction for writing a false check provided one year has passed with no other convictions occurring
  • A conviction for a first offense under the Youthful Offender Act provided that no additional convictions occurred within five years after the completion of the sentence
  • First-offense failure to stop for blue lights provided no additional convictions occurred within three years after the completion of the sentence

Arrest Record Expungement Process in South Carolina

Generally, to initiate the expungement process in South Carolina, one must submit an application to the Solicitor's Office in the arrest's judicial circuit. The application form and procedure details are available on the relevant solicitor's website or by contacting the office.

However, if seeking expungement of a non-conviction in a Magistrate or Municipal Court, the clerk's office of that court must be contacted to obtain the essential documentation.

An individual must pay administrative, verification, and filing fees to the Solicitor's Office, SLED, and Clerk of Court, respectively. However, dismissed, not prosecuted, and not-guilty verdicts are exempt from expungement fees.

For additional information about the expungement process in South Carolina, interested parties can obtain and read the FAQ brochure of the state judiciary.

It is important to note that the expungement process can take several months and requires patience. The court will review the individual's application and determine whether to grant or deny the expungement.

The expungement procedure in South Carolina may be somewhat complex and time-consuming. Therefore, legal counsel is advised, especially for first-time applicants.

How To Search South Carolina Arrest Records

Law enforcement agencies keep South Carolina Arrest Records on file. Therefore, any entity interested in a person's arrest record must contact the police department or sheriff's office responsible for the arrest.

Interested parties can submit requests to a local law enforcement agency by visiting its location. To view an arrest record, the requesting party must provide the records division or unit with specific case information and pay any applicable fees.

Request forms may be available on some agencies' websites, and the requester can transmit them via mail or in person. It may also be possible to send the form via email.

Since an arrest record appears on a criminal background check, the interested party can also query the SLED for the history.

Contrary to the arrest records provided by local law enforcement agencies, a SLED criminal history report includes information about convictions in addition to arrests.

The seekers can view and print these records using the SLED's online Citizens Access To Criminal Histories (CATCH) database. Users of CATCH should be aware that non-refundable and convenience fees will be charged to their credit or debit card for each search.

Alternatively, individuals may submit their requests via postal mail. It involves completing a Criminal Record Check Form and mailing it to the division's postal address specified on the form.

Like in the CATCH method, individuals making a mail-in request will be charged the same non-refundable fee, payable via money order, certified check, cashier's check, or business check.


Counties in South Carolina

Jails and Prisons in South Carolina

Greenville County SC Detention Center20 McGee Street, Greenville, SC
Greenville County SC Juvenile Detention Center20 McGee Street, Greenville, SC
Perry Correctional Institution430 Oaklawn Road, Pelzer, SC
Richland County (Alvin S. Glenn) Detention Center201 John Mark Dial Drive, Columbia, SC
Manning Reentry/Work Release Center502 Beckman Drive, Columbia, SC
Kirkland Reception and Evaluation Center4344 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC
Broad River Correctional Institution4460 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC
Goodman Correctional Institution4556 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC
Graham (Camille Griffin) Correctional Institution4450 Broad River Road, Columbia, SC
Charleston County SC Juvenile Detention Center4350 Headquarters Road, Charleston, SC