An individual obtains a criminal record in South Carolina when they are first arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement in the state. Law enforcement agencies and county courts forward criminal history record information to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, which manages the state’s central repository of criminal records.
Criminal records are made accessible to the general public in South Carolina. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division provides a fee-based online search tool known as SLED CATCH (Citizens Access to Criminal Histories) that can be used to look up the criminal record of any person in the state.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of South Carolina, criminal record information is open to the general public and accessible using SLED CATCH.
What is included in a South Carolina criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a South Carolina criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a South Carolina criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
- Pending and dismissed charges
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record.
- Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person.
- They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
- An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public.
- In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:
- Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering.
- Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
- Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.
What is the difference between a South Carolina arrest record and a South Carolina criminal record?
While an arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
How do I search for a South Carolina criminal record?
SLED CATCH is a fee-based online search tool that can be used to perform a name-based criminal background check of any person.
Here’s an overview of SLED CATCH:
- One search costs $2– plus an additional $1 convenience fee–which can be paid using a debit or credit card. Searches are non-refundable.
- Certain organizations may be eligible to pay a reduced $8 fee.
- The following search fields are required: Last Name, First Name, Date of Birth, and Gender.
- Results are returned only if the search yields an exact match of an individual’s name and date of birth. Variations on the name will not yield results.
- SLED CATCH does not return out-of-state criminal history record information.
In addition to requests processed through SLED CATCH, SLED also accepts mail-in requests. Here’s how to send a criminal record check by mail:
- Fill out a Criminal Records Check Form.
- Prepare a certified check, business check, cashier’s check, or money order for $25 payable to “SLED”. There is no convenience fee for mailed requests and personal checks are not accepted.
- Mail the completed form and payment in a self-addressed envelope to:
SLED Records Department
PO Box 21398
Columbia, SC 29221-1398
How do I obtain a physical copy of a North Carolina criminal record?
You may obtain a hard copy of a North Carolina criminal record by printing the results of a SLED CATCH search. Additionally, mailed in requests will return a physical copy of the subject’s criminal record, if a record exists in their name.
Why can’t I access a South Carolina criminal record?
If a SLED CATCH or mailed in criminal record request does not return a criminal record, the subject of the search may not have a criminal record in the state. It’s also possible that they have a criminal record under a different name or alias.
How do I search for South Carolina criminal case court records?
Individuals may use the South Carolina Judicial Branch: Case Records Search to lookup court records from every county court in the state.
Does South Carolina allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
In South Carolina, it is possible to have minor and/or first-time offenses expunged from a criminal record. However, major offenses are not eligible for expungement.
Refer to this SCcourts.org Expungement FAQ for more information on eligibility and how to begin the expungement process.
How can I have false information on a South Carolina criminal record corrected?
The process for challenging information on a South Carolina criminal record is as follows:
- Visit a local law enforcement agency and have your fingerprints taken on a blue applicant fingerprint card.
- Complete the rest of the fingerprint card and choose “Challenge of Criminal Record” for “Reason for Fingerprinted”
- Fill out a Challenge of South Carolina Arrest Record form. This form can be requested from a local law enforcement agency.
- Mail the form and fingerprint card in an enclosed, self-addressed envelope to:
SLED Crime Information Center, Attention Debbie Monts
Post Office Box 21398
Columbia, South Carolina 29221
How long are South Carolina criminal records kept on file?
Unless a petition to expunge an offense is successfully filed in a South Carolina court, criminal history record information will be kept on file indefinitely in the state’s central repository.