Access free South Carolina criminal records today through official channels and learn more about someone’s past or current situation.

South Carolina arrest records and criminal proceedings are readily accessible thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and South Carolina’s own Freedom of Information Act, but if you don’t know what to look for or where to look, they can be difficult to find.

Comprehensive Resources

Whether you’re looking for arrests, mugshots, criminal history or background check reports, probation or parole information, warrant status, prisoner records, or nearby sex offenders, this guide provides the necessary resources to find the information sought.

Authored by Attorney Robert Bailey Jr

Written or authored by Attorney Robert Bailey Jr, who possesses a Juris Doctorate in Law from Widener University School of Law and is a Licensed Attorney.

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Are Criminal Records & Arrest Records Public Information in South Carolina?

Yes, as a result of federal and state law, the public is provided access to most criminal and arrest records in South Carolina. However, it can be difficult to find them if you do not know where to look.

Online Databases: South Carolina provides some straightforward ways to find someone’s criminal record. Certain government agencies (both state and local) have online search databases that can serve as a people finder for individuals with a criminal or arrest record in South Carolina.

Direct Contact: If you are trying to find out if someone is in jail, this article will instruct you on how to use these search tools to check for daily arrests, charges, and details on their current status. If you need to, you can also reach out to these state and local agencies directly by phone or in person.

Exemptions in Access: The South Carolina government is authorized to host a public repository containing detailed arrest and criminal records through both federal and state FOIA laws. However, both federal and state laws have exemptions on what type of information and under what circumstances these records can be released.

Different Custodians: It is important to note that while they may seem similar, criminal and arrest records are held by different custodians. As a result, you have to take different steps to access these unique records. To obtain arrest records, you will have to search with law enforcement agencies which are linked below.

Restrictions on Availability: On the other hand, criminal records may be accessed through various state agencies and/or courts. And for other types of publicly available information such as marital records, take a look at our South Carolina public records search guide.

Sealed and Expunged Records: There are further restrictions on when criminal and arrest records are available. In addition to federal and state FOIA laws, South Carolina prohibits access to specific criminal records. Two notable examples are juvenile records and records that have been sealed or expunged.

No Public Search for Sealed or Expunged Records: These records are also not available to be searched for publicly. Interestingly, when records are sealed or expunged, they are considered to no longer exist. More on expunging a criminal record will be discussed towards the end of this article.

Criminal Records vs Arrest Records in South Carolina & What’s Shown on Each

While there is similar information contained in criminal and arrest records, there are also some distinctions as to the type of information they provide.

Arrest Records: Arrest records are established at the time someone is arrested or charged with a crime(s) and are usually available immediately. South Carolina arrest records contain the following information:

  • Name
  • Sex
  • Date of Birth
  • Descriptive Characteristics (hair, eyes, height, weight)
  • Arrest date
  • Current Address
  • Charges
  • Arresting Agency
  • Case Number
  • Case Disposition
  • Sentence length and date sentence starts
  • Bail

Criminal Records: South Carolina criminal records provide information on an individual’s case. This will start from their initial arrest and include the last court hearing or disposition of the case. Criminal records contain the following information:

  • State Identification Number
  • Name
  • Age
  • Ethnicity/Race
  • Sex
  • Descriptive Characteristics (hair, eyes, height, weight)
  • Birth Date
  • Admission Date
  • Current Facility
  • Docket Number
  • Booked Date
  • All Offenses
  • Minimum Sentence
  • Maximum sentence
  • Individual’s history of incarceration
  • Mugshot
  • Alias(es)

How To Check If Someone Was Arrested & Taken to a South Carolina Jail for Free

As seen below, South Carolina provides a couple of easy ways to search for recent arrests for free.

Starting Your Search: However, determining where to start searching depends on which agency made the arrest (e.g., police department) and where someone is incarcerated (e.g., county jail, state prison, etc.). Start by gathering information on the person you are trying to search for in jail.

Information Gathering: The more information you have, the higher the likelihood of a successful search. When trying to find out why someone was arrested, the individual’s first and last name (unless a very common name) should be enough information to find South Carolina arrest records on a particular individual.

Alternative Search Methods: If you do not have their name, you may still be able to find the information you are looking for. Certain search engines will allow you to enter other descriptive information when performing your search. Some local agencies provide a jail roster that you can search for manually. While this may be a time-consuming process, it allows you to conduct a thorough search for an individual’s arrest record.

Contacting Law Enforcement: If you search for the information you have but cannot find the arrest record online, the law enforcement agency or jail should have a process for providing an arrest record.

How To Get in Touch With a Person in a South Carolina Jail & Bail Them Out

Identify the Jail Location

To initiate the process, determine the specific jail where the individual is currently incarcerated.

  • You can often find this information through an arrest or criminal record search using the methods below or by contacting the agencies listed.

Contact the Jail or Local Sheriff

  • Once you’ve identified the jail, reach out to the jail administration or the local sheriff’s office in the respective county.
  • They will guide you through the necessary steps for both contacting the incarcerated individual and facilitating their release.
  • Keep in mind that jails have specific communication policies, including visitation and phone hour restrictions.

Understand Bail Options in South Carolina

South Carolina offers two types of bail to secure an individual’s release from jail.

  • Cash Bail: Typically reserved for more serious offenses, this requires the full bail amount to be paid upfront.
  • Surety Bail: This option allows you to pay a fee to a bondsman who will post bail on your behalf. Bondsmen may request collateral as security.

Contacting State Prisoners

If you need to reach a state prisoner, The South Carolina Department of Corrections provides general information.

  • To make phone calls to an inmate, you’ll need to set up an account with Global Tel*Link Corporation. The current rate for domestic calls within the United States is 5.5 cents per minute.

How To Look Up & View South Carolina Criminal Records

While arrest records are managed by law enforcement agencies and jails, criminal records are typically located within courts or the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

If you’re searching for criminal records, consider these options:

    • County Courts: Contact or visit the courthouse in the relevant county to inquire about obtaining specific criminal records. Many counties also offer online search tools for criminal records.
    • South Carolina Judicial Branch Case Records Search: The SC Judicial Branch provides free online criminal case records searches for all South Carolina counties.
    • South Carolina Department of Corrections: Conduct a search for criminal records of individuals incarcerated in South Carolina through this department.

Perform a Criminal Record Search With South Carolina’s Judicial Branch Case Records Search

South Carolina provides a central location where you can access a free online search tool for every county.

You do not need to register or sign in to use these search tools. Simply click on the county you want to perform a search for criminal records.

You can search criminal records using any of the following information:

  • Case number
  • Court
  • Name
  • Action type
  • Indictment number
  • Beginning and end date from (1) when the action was filed; (2) arrested; (3) case filed; (4) disposed of; or (5) judgment entered

The initial search page will provide you with the following information: (1) name, (2)case number, (3) filed date, (4) case status, (5) disposition date, (6) type of case, and (7) court agency. Once you select a case, you can get detailed information about the case and all events/hearings that have taken place and their result. In addition, you can see the arrest date, charges, sentencing date, address, and descriptive information (race, sex, date of birth) about the individual.

Find Criminal Records via the South Carolina State Department of Corrections (SCDOC)

The South Carolina DOC provides a public records repository to find criminal records information for current inmates.

Search Options:

  • Individual’s Name
  • South Carolina Department of Corrections ID
  • State Identification Number
  • Phonetic Match (unique feature)

Data Provided by South Carolina’s Department of Corrections:

  • Offender Name
  • Gender
  • Mugshot (with Date of Capture)
  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Citizenship
  • Race
  • Height
  • Hair
  • Weight
  • Eyes
  • Institution Admission Date
  • Projected Release Date
  • State Identification Number
  • Disciplinary Sanctions
  • Status (e.g., Incarcerated, Probation, Parole)
  • Current and Past Incarceration Locations
  • Current Offenses (including Sentence Type, Length, County, Start Date, Indictment Number, and Status)

How to Acquire a Copy of Criminal Records in South Carolina

In South Carolina, you can request a criminal history record check from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

Request Methods and Fee

There are multiple ways you can make a request, but regardless of which method you choose, there is a $25.00 non-refundable fee.

Online Request: To receive your criminal record online, please visit our website and follow the instructions for submitting your request.

Mail Request: Alternatively, you can mail a Criminal Records Check Form along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to the following address:

SLED Records Department PO Box 21398 Columbia, South Carolina 29221

Requesting Criminal Records from SLED

When requesting criminal records (e.g., an individual’s rap sheet) from SLED, you must have the individual’s exact birth date and name; otherwise, you will risk paying a fee and not receiving a copy of the criminal records you wanted.

County-Level Requests

If you are making your request at the county level, you will have to contact the courthouse or law enforcement agency to figure out their process for requesting a copy of a criminal record.

Rules for Requesting Criminal Records

Both at the state and local level, there are specific rules when requesting the criminal records of another person.

For instance, if you are making this request for professional reasons, you are required by law to receive the person’s consent. Whether you’re an employer looking to hire a new employee or a landlord screening a prospective tenant, make sure you first obtain consent before requesting their South Carolina criminal records.

How To Search for People on Probation or Parole in South Carolina

Generally, when someone is on parole or probation, that means they are no longer incarcerated for the crime they committed. Probation is reserved for individuals who were convicted of either a misdemeanor or felony and are now released but still under supervision.

Individuals on parole were convicted of a serious crime, such as a felony, and were sentenced to South Carolina state prison and have now been released under certain conditions by the South Carolina parole board.

Probation and Parole Statistics

The following image displays the total number of probationers and parolees in South Carolina and compares it with other states across the United States. Additionally, it showcases the ethnicities of individuals on community supervision in South Carolina, including probation and parole.

Probation and Parolee Database in South Carolina

In some states, such as South Carolina, there exists a probation or parolee database that allows individuals to verify the status of those under probation or parole. The Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services in South Carolina offers a comprehensive probation search tool, offering detailed information regarding individuals currently under probation or parole.

South Carolina Probation Search Options:

  • First and Last Name
  • State Identification Number (SID)
  • First or Last Name and Year of Birth
  • County and SID, First Name, or Last Name

Supervision Search Tool Information:

Once you conduct a successful search, you can find their supervision type, as well as the beginning and end date for their supervision. In addition, this search tool will provide the following information:

  • SID (System Identification)
  • Name
  • Age
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Main offense
  • Whether or not they are on South Carolina’s Sex Offender Registry

For any further questions, you can contact the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services directly at 803-734-9220.

Federal Bureau of Prisons Inmate Search:

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides a free search tool to conduct a search for people who are serving time in federal prison. [14, 15]

While this is not a specific parole search, the database will show if an inmate was recently released. While not definitive, if an inmate was recently released, there is a high likelihood the individual is currently on parole.

Obtaining Information on Probation/Parole Status for Individuals Convicted of Sexual Crimes

To access valuable information regarding the probation/parole status of individuals convicted of sexual crimes, you can perform a search on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) National Sex Offender Registry.

Search for Convicted Sex Offenders

This search tool allows you to look for convicted sex offenders by name or location. While neither of these are probation/parole searches, they can be used to find this information for free.

How To Expunge or Seal a Criminal Record in SC (South Carolina)

In South Carolina, when you have your record expunged, it means that the court issued an order to completely remove a certain offense or arrest from your criminal record.17

This is officially called an Order for Destruction of Arrest Records.18 Here are some important facts if you are trying to expunge your criminal record in South Carolina:

  • Submit your application for expungement in the county where the South Carolina arrest record(s) originated.
  • There are different timeframes for when you can apply unless it is for a charge that was dismissed, not prosecuted, or had a similar disposition. For those cases, you can apply immediately.
  • An expungement is not a quick process. Expect it to take up to 6 months for your expungement to be completed.
  • If you are seeking expungement for a crime you were convicted of, expect to pay, at a minimum, the $250 administrative fee. Depending on the offense, there may also be a verification and/or filing fee.
  • Convictions for violent crimes and certain traffic violations cannot be expunged.

Expungement and Criminal Records

It’s important to remember that an expungement means that government agencies will remove these criminal records. Non-government agencies may still have your criminal record, and you may have to contact them directly to update them regarding your expungement.

How to Determine Inmate Location in South Carolina State Prison or Federal Penitentiary

For South Carolina State Prison, start by using the SC DOC Offender Search. Utilize this search to find someone you are looking for in any state prison throughout South Carolina.

You can search by either name or identification number (i.e., South Carolina Department of Corrections ID and State Identification Number). When you find the individual you are looking for, among other information, it will tell you the inmate’s current location.

In addition, the SC Department of Corrections also provides uniquely specific information such as the dorm, room, and bunk of the inmate.

You will have to visit the Federal Bureau of Prison (BOP) to locate individuals in federal prison. Here you can search by inmate name to find their location. If needed, you can also further filter your results by providing the person’s:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Assigned inmate number (e.g., FBI number, BOP Register Number)

How to Check for Active Warrants in South Carolina

South Carolina does not provide a single warrant list database for individuals with active warrants in its state. However, some counties have a search tool to allow you to check if someone has a warrant out for their arrest. Sumter County and Charleston County are two examples of where you can do an online warrant search in a specific county.

Examples of how best to find warrant information can be found through our resource on how to retrieve Charleston County public information, which includes not only contact information and online search tools for city and county agencies that host warrant details but also gives a comprehensive overview of how to find all Charleston County public records on anyone – such as probation, arrest, criminal, court documents, and more.

In addition, a local wanted persons list is provided by SLED with links to certain individual counties’ most wanted lists.

Issuing Federal Warrants by the U.S. Marshal

The U.S. Marshal holds the responsibility of issuing federal warrants. Regrettably, federal warrant searches are not accessible to the general public.

Accessing Federal Warrant Information via the Warrant Information System (WIN)

Information regarding federal warrants can be accessed through the Warrant Information System (WIN). However, this privilege is restricted to law enforcement personnel and individuals who require this data for official purposes.

An Overview of Background Checks in South Carolina

Background checks serve various purposes in both personal and professional contexts. They are essential for securing rental agreements, firearm purchases, adoption applications, and often for employment purposes.

Professional Background Checks

Professional background checks are typically requested by employers or individuals in professions subject to federal or state regulations, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines (21, 22). These checks aim to verify the provided information and identify any potential red flags.

For instance, the Fair Credit Reporting Act mandates non-discrimination and necessitates obtaining consent before initiating a background check.

Personal Background Checks in South Carolina

In South Carolina, individuals can perform personal background checks using freely available search tools to access arrest and criminal records. For an official South Carolina background check, one can request a criminal history record check from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

For a more comprehensive background check, individuals can request an Identity History Summary Check from the FBI (23). This can be done by paying an $18 fee and submitting an online request. Alternatively, one can request a national background check through mail or an FBI-approved channeler.

The online method provides the quickest results, typically within 3-5 days.

Note: Personal background checks lack many restrictions, but the information must not be used for illegal purposes.

Navigating and Searching the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry

South Carolina’s Sex Offender records and information are accessible through its Sex Offender Registry (24).

Their search functionality allows users to conduct name-based or geographic searches. In geographic searches, results can be filtered by distance from a specified address.

Information on South Carolina’s Sex Offender Registry:

  • Name
  • Mugshot
  • Aliases
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Date of Birth
  • Addresses (including primary, employer, school, and other addresses)
  • Physical Description (height, weight, hair color, eye color)
  • Scars, Marks, and Tattoos
  • Offenses (including conviction date, state, and statute)
  • Vehicle Information (make, model, color, and license plate number)

Accessing the National Sex Offender Registry

Another option is to check the national sex offender registry operated by the United States Department of Justice. This registry includes sex offenders throughout the United States.

Note: This registry is limited to searching people convicted of sexual crimes and is not a general felony registry.

Laws Regarding Criminal Records and Arrest Records

Criminal Records & Arrest RecordsLaws About Criminal Records, Arrest Records & Your Rights

Both South Carolina and federal law give you the right to access arrest records and criminal records. While there are certain federal and state exemptions, the majority of these records are fairly accessible.

Also, remember there are rules for how you can use these records. Specifically, you cannot use these records to commit a crime. That means someone cannot use your criminal records to try to coerce or blackmail you.

There are also restrictions on professional background checks. While they are widely used on a regular basis, there are specific state rules and requirements provided by the EEOC and FCRA.

If you are worried about your criminal or arrest records, depending on the crime, you have the right to request an expungement. This may afford you a clean start and the ability to restrict others, such as future employers, from finding your criminal records.

In Summary

In summary, the best way to access South Carolina arrest records is to use the county jail or sheriff’s inmate look-up tool or contact them if they do not have one.

For South Carolina criminal records, your best options are to either use the judicial branch’s county court case search tools or South Carolina’s Department of Corrections offender search.


What is the process for accessing South Carolina arrest and criminal records for free?

Accessing South Carolina arrest and criminal records for free typically involves utilizing online resources provided by government agencies. The primary sources include the county jail or sheriff’s inmate look-up tool and the judicial branch’s county court case search tools. Additionally, South Carolina’s Department of Corrections offers an offender search database. By navigating these platforms, you can obtain relevant information regarding arrests and criminal records.

Are there any restrictions on who can access these records for free?

In general, access to South Carolina arrest and criminal records is open to the public. However, it’s essential to be aware that some sensitive information might be restricted or redacted in accordance with state and federal privacy laws. Additionally, certain records may be sealed or expunged, limiting their accessibility.

Can I use these records for employment or other purposes?

Yes, you can use these records for legitimate purposes such as background checks for employment, rental applications, or personal research. However, it’s crucial to adhere to the regulations set forth by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) when using these records for employment-related decisions.

How can I request an expungement of my own South Carolina criminal records?

If you have a criminal record in South Carolina and wish to have it expunged, you can initiate the process by contacting the appropriate authorities or legal counsel. The eligibility criteria for expungement vary based on the nature of the offense and other factors. Expungement can offer a fresh start and prevent others, including potential employers, from accessing your criminal records.

Is there a national database for South Carolina arrest and criminal records?

While there is no national database specifically for South Carolina arrest and criminal records, the United States Department of Justice operates a national sex offender registry that includes information on sex offenders throughout the United States. This registry focuses on sexual crimes and may not encompass all criminal records. To access South Carolina-specific records, it’s advisable to use the state’s official resources, as mentioned in the previous questions.