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South Carolina Court Records

South Carolina Court Records refer to the official documentation of legal proceedings and cases in the various courts within the state. These records comprehensively describe all the court activities, including criminal and civil matters, probate records, property disputes, and other legal proceedings.

Court records are an essential resource for legal research, as they provide a detailed account of the legal history of a case, including information on court proceedings, decisions, and outcomes.

South Carolina maintains several court records, such as case files, court dockets, court orders, judgments, transcripts, and court calendars. Each court holds its own set of documents, which the public can access, subject to certain restrictions and limitations.

Court records in South Carolina are generally public records under the state's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which means they are available for public access and review.

Under the South Carolina FOIA, all public records are presumed accessible to the general public unless they fall under one of the legal exemptions. Some exemptions include documents containing sensitive personal information, trade secrets, or information compromising public safety or national security.

In addition to the FOIA, South Carolina courts adhere to the Rules of Court. These rules govern the procedures for accessing court records and guide on issues such as redacting sensitive information from documents, sealing records for privacy reasons, and accessing records in electronic format.

The Court Clerks create and maintain South Carolina Court Records and ensure that all legal documents are filed and recorded accurately. The court organizes and stores the records in paper or electronic format.

Which South Carolina Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

A clear understanding of how the South Carolina state court system operates is essential when locating court records. By knowing the different courts within the state, individuals can more easily identify which court is responsible for a specific case and, therefore, where to search for relevant court records.

In South Carolina, the trial court system maintains most of the publicly accessible records in the state, which consists of the following:

South Carolina Circuit Courts

The Circuit Courts in South Carolina are the state's trial courts of general jurisdiction, with authority over civil and criminal cases. These courts typically only hear cases that exceed the authority of lower courts.

But the Circuit Courts have original jurisdiction over all civil cases with an amount in controversy over $7,500 and all criminal cases where the penalty is imprisonment for more than one year.

Generally, South Carolina Circuit Courts have two divisions: the Court of Common Pleas, which handles civil proceedings, and the division of the Court of General Sessions, which hears criminal trials.

Aside from its civil and criminal jurisdictions, these courts can handle other cases, including family law matters, probate issues, and appeals from lower courts.

South Carolina Family Courts

The Family Courts in South Carolina have original jurisdiction over family and domestic relations cases. These courts can hear various issues, including adoption, divorce, child custody, paternity, child support, alimony, termination of parental rights, and domestic violence.

The Family Court also has jurisdiction over cases involving juvenile delinquency and dependency. However, most fish, traffic, and game law violations are still tried in magistrate or municipal tribunals. Additionally, the Circuit Courts often take over juvenile cases that involve serious criminal charges and try the minors as adults.

South Carolina has a unified Family Court system, meaning there is a single Family Court in each county that hears all family law cases.

South Carolina Probate Courts

South Carolina Probate Courts are specialized courts that handle matters related to the administration of estates, management of trusts, guardianship, conservatorship, and certain mental health cases.

Their primary responsibility is supervising the probate process, which includes identifying and inventorying the assets of a deceased person, paying off any outstanding debts, and distributing the remaining assets to successors or beneficiaries per the provisions of the will or state law if there is no will.

In addition to these functions, Probate Courts In South Carolina also have the authority to issue marriage licenses.

South Carolina Magistrates Courts

South Carolina Magistrates Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that handle minor criminal offenses and civil disputes involving up to $7,500. These courts are also responsible for conducting preliminary hearings in criminal cases, conducting bond hearings, and issuing arrest and search warrants.

Generally, when the penalty does not exceed $500 in fines or 30 days in jail, Magistrates Courts have sole criminal authority. These courts and the Circuit Courts share power when the sentence surpasses these boundaries.

In addition, Magistrates Courts have original jurisdiction over all domestic violence matters involving a first offense, except in Orangeburg.

In civil disputes, Magistrates Courts have jurisdiction over claims involving amounts up to $7,500. These claims may include small claims cases, such as disputes over debts, property damage, or landlord-tenant issues.

Magistrates Courts also handle preliminary hearings in criminal cases, which are hearings held to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed to trial. They may also conduct bond hearings, deciding whether a defendant should be released from custody before trial and under what conditions.

Moreover, Magistrates Courts may issue arrest and search warrants and assist in enforcing court orders and judgments.

South Carolina Municipal Courts

The Municipal Courts in South Carolina have limited jurisdiction over infractions of municipal ordinances and crimes committed inside city borders.

Generally, these courts can handle criminal proceedings with up to 30 days imprisonment, fines of up to $500, or both. In addition, Municipal Courts can hear matters moved from Circuit Courts that are punishable by up to one-year imprisonment, up to $5,000 in penalties, or both.

In addition to the trial court system, the South Carolina Supreme Court and Court of Appeals also handle some court records in the state.

What are the Common Public Court Records in South Carolina?

South Carolina offers the general public access to various court records, providing valuable insights into legal proceedings. Here is a brief overview of some of the most commonly available court records in South Carolina, their contents, and ways to access them:

South Carolina Civil and Small Claims Records

South Carolina Civil Records are official court documents and transcripts of proceedings related to civil cases in the state. On the other hand, Small Claims Court Records are official documents and transcripts of proceedings about small claims cases.

The main difference between South Carolina Civil Court Records and Small Claims Court Records is the type of case they document. Civil Court Records document legal proceedings related to larger disputes, often involving more significant sums of money and complex legal issues.

Meanwhile, Small Claims Court Records document legal proceedings related to more minor disputes involving lesser amounts of money or property, typically less than $7,500 in South Carolina. Small claims cases are generally less formal and have simplified procedures than civil cases.

Small Claims Courts in South Carolina are part of the Magistrate Courts system and have jurisdiction over civil matters involving smaller disputes where the amount does not exceed $7,500. On the other hand, the Civil Court division of the South Carolina Circuit Courts handles all civil cases where the amount in dispute exceeds $7,500.

One can find South Carolina Civil Court Records and Small Claims Court Records by contacting the Clerk of Court's office in the county where the case was heard. For instance, if a civil case or small claims case occurred in Charleston County, South Carolina, one would need to contact the Clerk of Court's office in Charleston County to request the records.

What Information Do South Carolina Civil and Small Claims Records Contain?

Both South Carolina Civil Court Records and Small Claims Court Records may contain similar types of information, including:

  • Names and contact information of the parties involved in the case, including their attorneys (if applicable).
  • A description of the legal dispute, including the facts and issues involved
  • Pleadings, motions, and other documents filed by the parties in the case
  • Orders and judgments issued by the court, including decisions on motions and trial verdicts
  • Dates of court hearings and further proceedings related to the case
  • Any exhibits or evidence introduced during the trial or hearing

Note that the information and materials in these records may vary in detail and complexity based on the type and intricacy of the case.

South Carolina Criminal Records

South Carolina Criminal Records refer to official documents containing information about a person's criminal history.

Various state law enforcement agencies and courts maintain these records and make them available to the public following state laws. People can use them for multiple purposes, such as employment screening, background checks, and legal proceedings.

However, certain restrictions and requirements may apply depending on the type of record requested and the purpose of the request.

The specific information contained in South Carolina criminal records may vary depending on the agency or court responsible for maintaining them but typically includes the following:

  • Personal identifying information, such as name, date of birth, and race
  • Details of any known aliases or prior addresses
  • Physical description and biometric data, such as height, weight, hair color, and eye color
  • Fingerprints and photographs
  • Arrest information, including the date and location of the arrest, the arresting agency, and the charges filed
  • Court information, including the court of jurisdiction, case number, and disposition of the case
  • Sentencing information, including the type of sentence imposed and any conditions of probation or parole
  • Details of any appeals or post-conviction proceedings
  • Any outstanding warrants or other legal orders related to the case
  • Information related to the person's criminal history within the state, including any prior arrests, convictions, and sentencing

The best way to access South Carolina Criminal Records is through the Citizens Access To Criminal Histories (CATCH) portal of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

For a fee, interested parties can perform a name-based search in this portal by entering the subject's first initial, last name, date of birth, and social security number (if available) to retrieve the desired record.

South Carolina Traffic Records

South Carolina Traffic Records refer to information and records related to traffic and driving in the state. These South Carolina Court Records can provide valuable information about traffic safety, driving histories, and vehicle registration.

In South Carolina, the primary agencies responsible for creating and maintaining traffic records are the state courts, law enforcement agencies, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Traffic records in South Carolina contain various types of information or documents, including:

Crash Reports

These reports contain details about traffic accidents, including the date and time of the crash, location, vehicles involved, and injuries or fatalities.

Driver Records

Driver records contain information about an individual's personal information and driving history, including license suspensions, accidents, violations, sentences, and penalties.

Vehicle Registration Records

Vehicle registration records contain information about a vehicle's ownership, registration status, and vehicle characteristics.

Traffic Citations

Law enforcement officers issue traffic citations to drivers who violate South Carolina's traffic laws.

South Carolina has four types of traffic citations: uniform traffic tickets for recent misdemeanor traffic violations, speeding tickets for exceeding or driving below-posted speed limits, accident tickets for traffic violations during an accident, and significant violation tickets for serious traffic offenses such as driving under the influence, reckless driving, or driving without insurance.

It is important to note that some personal information, such as social security numbers, is not included in South Carolina Traffic Records to protect the privacy of individuals. Additionally, some records may be restricted or require a court order to access.

The best way to look up South Carolina Traffic Records is through the state's DMV website. The South Carolina DMV offers a free online Driver Records Point Summary on its website. Alternatively, individuals can request driving records for three or ten years online for a fee.

Interested parties can also request these records by mail by completing Form MV-70 and sending it along with the required payment. Note that the agency does not accept cash payments when submitting a request by mail.

South Carolina Probate Records

When someone passes away, their property and assets must be settled and distributed according to their wishes or state law. This process is known as probate, and it involves filing legal documents, paying debts and taxes, and distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries.

South Carolina Probate Records may include wills, estate inventories, accountings, and other legal documents related to the settlement of the estate. They can provide valuable information about the deceased person's family, property, and personal belongings, as well as insights into the legal and social norms of the time.

Wills, for example, often name the deceased person's spouse, children, and other family members, providing essential clues about family structure and inheritance patterns. Estate inventories can also reveal information about the deceased person's occupation, income, and possessions, shedding light on their lifestyle and social status.

In addition to their genealogical value, probate records in South Carolina can provide a window into the state's legal system and cultural history. By examining the language and structure of legal documents, researchers can gain insights into legal practices and customs of the time.

They can also learn about the social norms and values that govern property ownership, inheritance, and family relationships in South Carolina.

The county Probate Court where the decedent resided at the time of death typically keeps South Carolina Probate Records. Therefore, researchers can contact the appropriate county Probate Court in South Carolina to access these records.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History also maintains many counties' microfilm copies of probate records. Researchers can visit the department's research room or order copies of the documents online or by mail.

South Carolina Family Records

South Carolina Family Records from courts provide insight into the state's legal system and families' challenges. These records include documentation of legal proceedings related to family matters, such as adoption, divorce, child custody, and child support.

These records provide a wealth of information about the legal and social issues families face in South Carolina. For example, they can provide insight into the changing attitudes towards divorce and remarriage and the impact of social and economic factors on family stability.

Family court records can also document the struggles of individuals and families dealing with poverty, domestic violence, and other challenges.

They also serve as a valuable resource for genealogists, allowing them to trace family histories and gain a deeper understanding of the lives of their ancestors. For example, divorce records can reveal information about family members who may have otherwise been difficult to locate, such as birth dates, marriage dates, and addresses.

Adoption records can provide information about birth parents and adoptive families, allowing genealogists to piece together a complete family history.

The county Family Court where the family matter occurred keeps South Carolina Family Records. Note that access to these records may be restricted or require a court order in some cases to protect the privacy of those involved. Therefore, it is best to check with the specific court to determine the proper procedure for accessing these records.

The South Carolina Judicial Branch (SCJB) also keeps these records and makes them available to the public for research purposes. It has a Family Court Public Portal where interested parties can run a free search online.

South Carolina Bankruptcy Records

South Carolina Bankruptcy Records are an essential resource for individuals, businesses, and legal professionals seeking information on bankruptcy cases in the state.

Unlike any other South Carolina Court Records, these records are not in the jurisdiction of the state trial courts. Instead, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina, a federal court, is responsible for handling bankruptcy cases in the state.

Individuals and businesses may use South Carolina Bankruptcy Records to research bankruptcy filings by potential business partners or to determine if a debtor has filed for bankruptcy in the past. Legal professionals also use these records to prepare for bankruptcy cases and track ongoing cases' progress.

Bankruptcy records in South Carolina can contain a wealth of information on bankruptcy cases filed in the state. Some of the information that these records have are as follows:

  • Names of the parties involved in the bankruptcy case, including debtors, creditors, and attorneys
  • The type of bankruptcy filed (Chapter 7, Chapter 11, Chapter 12, or Chapter 13 bankruptcy)
  • The date of filing
  • The docket number
  • The bankruptcy trustee assigned to the case
  • The debts and assets involved in the bankruptcy case
  • The status of the bankruptcy case, including any court orders or judgments issued in the case
  • The date of discharge or dismissal, which indicates the outcome of the bankruptcy case
  • Any other relevant information related to the bankruptcy case, such as motions, objections, and other filings made in the case

How To Obtain Bankruptcy Records in South Carolina?

South Carolina Bankruptcy Records are accessible through several different methods, including:

CM/ECF (Case Management and Electronic Case Files)

CM/ECF is an electronic case filing and management system used by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina. It allows authorized users, including attorneys and parties to a case, to file documents and view case information electronically. Only authorized users with login credentials can have access to CM/ECF.

VCIS (Voice Case Information System)

This free automated telephone service provides basic case information, such as case number, filing date, and case status, for bankruptcy cases filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina. To access VCIS, call (866) 222-8029.

PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records)

This online system provides access to court records, including bankruptcy records, for a fee. PACER enables anyone with an account to search and view documents filed in bankruptcy cases. To register for a PACER account, visit the PACER website at

Archived Retrieval

For a fee, the Archived Retrieval tool on the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of South Carolina's website allows users to request copies of archived bankruptcy case files.

Note that access to South Carolina bankruptcy records is subject to certain restrictions, such as protecting personal identifying information and confidential information in certain cases. Additionally, some documents may not be available online or through VCIS and may require visiting the relevant courthouse to view the physical case file.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in South Carolina has courthouses in Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville.

Like many other U.S. states, South Carolina has a case search system for individuals seeking information about court cases. This system allows individuals to search for cases filed in South Carolina's state courts, including civil and criminal matters.

To use the case search system in South Carolina, an individual must first navigate to the SCJB website and select the "Case Records Search" option. From there, choose the county where the case occurred and start accessing South Carolina Court Records by conducting name-based or case number-based searches.

Once the case has been located, the individual can view a range of information about the case, including the case status, the court dates, the parties involved, and the documents filed.

The SCJB also has a Search Opinions portal for interested parties who want to track records from appellate courts (the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals).

If the needed court record is unavailable on these case search systems, one must ask the appropriate Trial Court Clerk or physically visit the court that heard the case.

The requester must typically provide specific information about the case to obtain access to a court record. This information is necessary to assist the record custodian in quickly locating the requested documents and may include the names of the parties involved or the case number.

Additionally, the requester may need to present a valid photo ID and pay any relevant fees before receiving copies of the records. The fees charged for court records can differ from county to county.


Counties in South Carolina

Courts in South Carolina

Parker Municipal Court20120 E. Mainstreet, Parker, SC
13th Judicial Circuit Court305 E. North St., Greenville, SC
Greenville County Magistrate Court4 McGee St., Greenville, SC
Greer Municipal Court100 SOUTH MAIN STREET, Greer, SC
Mauldin Municipal Court5 E. Butler Road, Mauldin, SC
Simpsonville Municipal Court118 NE Main Street, Simpsonville, SC
Berea Municipal Court11 Berea Commons, Berea, SC
South Carolina Supreme Court1231 Gervais St., Columbia, SC
5th Judicial Circuit Court1701 Main St., Columbia, SC
South Carolina Court of Appeals1220 Senate St., Columbia, SC