Expungement Law Veto Overridden by SC Legislature

Gov. Henry McMaster tried to stop lawmakers from allowing people with minor, non-violent drug convictions to have their criminal records expunged, but he failed.

The SC Legislature overrode the governor’s veto of a bill that expands eligibility for expungements and addresses problems with the state’s Youthful Offender Act. Thankfully, we have a new expungement law despite our governor.

McMaster says that he vetoed South Carolina’s long-awaited expungement law because it also prohibits employers from considering expunged offenses when making hiring decisions. But…

The Expungement Law Doesn’t Hurt Businesses

Despite McMaster’s claim that his veto was intended to protect employers, many state business leaders say the new law will help them and the state’s economy by expanding the potential workforce.

Greenville Chamber of Commerce President Carlos Phillips said the law will “make our state more economically competitive and continue our economic prosperity, while providing second-chance opportunities to thousands of our citizens.”

Larry Higgins, a Myrtle Beach business owner, said that, when he hires workers, he cares a lot more about their current behavior than their criminal record.

I think people deserve a second chance,” he said.

The new law also prohibits expunged convictions from being used in lawsuits related to negligent hiring, protecting employers from liability.

When Can Drug Convictions Be Expunged in SC?

The old expungement law allowed first-offense misdemeanors punishable by 30 days or less to be expunged after three years.  The new law expands eligibility by allowing expungement of:

  • First-offense convictions for simple possession of a controlled substance and first-offense convictions for illegal possession of a prescription drug, after three years; and
  • Convictions for possession with intent to distribute any drug, after 20 years.

How Does the New Law Help Youthful Offenders?

The law also corrects an ex-post facto violation in the old law that prohibited people who were eligible for a YOA sentence but who did not plead under the Youthful Offender Act from getting their convictions expunged.

Now, anyone who was age 24 or younger when convicted before June 2, 2010, can have their convictions expunged in six months.

This change removes tremendous barriers for people like Bryan Harris, now 24, who was convicted on a drug charge when he was 13 years old. Harris says he has worked construction jobs for years because his drug record prevented him from finding other work.

“It’s one of those things that has been held against me my whole life, now all I can do is learn from it and not get in trouble anymore,” Harris said.

A Sign of The Times?

The new expungement law and lawmakers’ willingness to stand up to the governor may be another sign of changing attitudes regarding the nation’s – and SC’s – draconian drug laws.

As more states legalize marijuana and SC moves toward allowing medical use of cannabis, it is important that the law provides some kind of relief to people already stained by non-violent drug convictions – especially those who were children at the time of their conviction.

South Carolina Expungement and Pardon Lawyer in Columbia, SC

If you have drug convictions or convictions under South Carolina’s Youthful Offender Act (YOA), your record may be eligible for expungement. Call the Thompson Defense Firm now at 843-444-6122 or message us online to find out how to clean up your criminal record in South Carolina.

One Response to “Expungement Law Veto Overridden by SC Legislature

  • How hypocritical!
    when Frank McMaster, Henry’s brother DUI conviction lost his law license but was reinstated. If you ask me, it is still the good old boys who want to oppress others when they have skeletons in their closet.
    Let’s not forget DUI can kill people and alcohol was once Illegal and it is worst because of the vast accessibility.
    If u vote for this guy for Govnor you not changing the state for all people but just for the elect who use their influence to avoid consequences.
    I will vote Democrat to keep him out and I am a conservative Replubican.
    Especially when the nation and the people are moving toward reform!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *