(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:

Terms Used In South Carolina Code 17-1-40

  • Arrest: Taking physical custody of a person by lawful authority.
  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • Damages: Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in civil cases to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Freedom of Information Act: A federal law that mandates that all the records created and kept by federal agencies in the executive branch of government must be open for public inspection and copying. The only exceptions are those records that fall into one of nine exempted categories listed in the statute. Source: OCC
  • Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
  • Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.
  • Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.
  • Summons: Another word for subpoena used by the criminal justice system.

(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, administrative hearings, 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 that when an action, complaint, or inquiry has been initiated, the records, documentation and materials, and other reports and files may be retained as needed to address the action, complaint, or inquiry. The information is not a public document and is exempt from disclosure, except by court order. At the end of the three years and one hundred twenty days from the date of the expungement order, the records must be destroyed unless they are being retained to address an action, complaint, or inquiry that has been initiated.

(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.

(4) If a person pleads guilty to a lesser included offense and the solicitor deems it appropriate, the solicitor shall notify the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and SLED shall request that the person’s record contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database or other similar database reflects the lesser included offense rather than the offense originally charged.

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

(F) 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.