A new law has made it possible for some people to get off the sex offender registry. If you qualify, it can be a welcome relief and a fresh start. From our criminal defense lawyers at the David Aylor Law Offices, here is how to get off the sex offender registry in South Carolina.
Steps to Get Off the South Carolina Sex Offender Registry
First, determine the tier of your offense and your waiting period.
The law divides sex offenses into three tiers. Tier I offenses are the least serious, while Tier III offenses are the most serious. Each tier has a waiting period before you can apply for removal from the sex offender registry.
- Tier I – 15 years
- Tier II – 25 years
- Tier III – 30 years
The person must register for the number of years required by the tier of their offense before they can apply for removal from the list.
How do I know the tier of my offense?
Once you have completed the waiting period applicable for your tier of offense, you may determine if you meet all other requirements and proceed to apply for removal from the list. The process varies depending on the tier of your offense.
Sex Offender Registry Removal for Tier I and Tier II Offenders
How to qualify
You must have:
- Registered for 15 years for Tier I offenders, 25 years for Tier II offenders
- Completed all sex offender treatment programs that were required of you
- Never failed to register in the last 10 years
- No convictions for sexual offenses after being placed on the registry
If you meet these qualifications, you may apply to be removed from the registry.
How to apply
- Complete the Application for Removal from the S.C. Sex Offender Registry. Sign and date the application
- Submit two sets of fingerprints using Blue Card FD-258 (example for informational purposes only). SLED will use them to conduct state and federal criminal background checks
- Submit a copy of your sentence and disposition for all convictions for which you are required to register
- Provide documentation that you have successfully completed all required treatment programs
- Pay the filing fee of $250.00. You must pay by certified check or cashier’s check. They do not accept personal checks
Send your completed application to:
Application for Sex Offender Registry Removal
SLED SOR Unit
P.O. Box 21398
Columbia, SC 29221
Note: You must continue to register until you are notified in writing that your application is complete, and you are no longer required to register.
Appealing an unfavorable decision
If SLED denies removal from the list, the person may appeal. There is no administrative appeal within SLED; rather, the person files an appeal in the general sessions court. The county where the conviction occurred is the county that hears the appeal. The Victim’s Rights Act applies and must be complied with, including notice requirements. The State of South Carolina is the respondent rather than SLED.
In the appeal, the court does not review the discretion of SLED. Rather, they make a finding of the likelihood of reoffending and whether it is in the best interests of justice to remove the person from the list. The petitioner bears the burden of proof by clear and convincing evidence.
Sex Offender Registry Removal for Tier III offenders
How to qualify
Tier III offenders must have registered for 30 years from the termination of active supervision, probation or parole. The requirements that apply to lower tier offenders – that the person complete all required sex offender treatment, never fail to register in the last 10 years and not have any new sex offense convictions – do not explicitly apply. However, practically, a request is unlikely to be successful if the petitioner has not done all these things.
The legal standard
To approve a request, the court must determine that:
- The offender is not a foreseeable risk to reoffend
- It is in the best interests of justice to grant the motion and end registration
- The petitioner has proved their case by clear and convincing evidence
The petitioner must prepare evidence to present to the court that they are unlikely to reoffend if they are removed from the sex offender registry. This open-ended requirement leaves considerable discretion for both the applicant and the court. The applicant should be prepared to provide robust records of their compliance with court orders, rehabilitation efforts, psychological evaluations and anything else needed to convince the court that they are unlikely to reoffend.
How to apply
Tier III offenders do not apply to SLED for administrative termination. Rather, they must apply directly to the general sessions court. Approval results in a court order for removal from the registry.
- The State of South Carolina is the respondent in the case. The prosecution represents the state. SLED is not named in the action.
- The case is filed in the county where the conviction occurred.
- The court may designate an evaluator from the South Carolina Department of Mental Health to investigate. The evaluator may require testing and assessments. Either the prosecutor or the offender may seek their own, independent evaluations. Anyone examining the person who will testify as an expert must make a written report available to both parties.
Out of state convictions
If the conviction occurred out of state, the Attorney General represents the state. The case is filed where the petitioner resides, rather than where the conviction occurred.
After a denial
If an appeal is denied, the person must wait five years before asking again.
While an appeal is pending
The person must continue to comply with registration requirements while the case is pending.
Sex Offender Registry Removal for Juvenile Offenders
The SC sex offender removal law creates an avenue for juvenile offenders to be excused from the registry. All juvenile requests for removal are handled in the same way, regardless of the tier of offense.
- There is a 15-year waiting period from the adjudication of delinquency
- The applicant applies through the SLED sex offender registry unit
- An application is required along with two sets of fingerprints, information about the conviction and compliance with treatment programs. Documentation must be official
- A $250.00 fee may be paid by money order or cashier’s check
An unsuccessful applicant may appeal to the general sessions court.
Lawyers for Getting Off the Sex Offender Registry in South Carolina
We are criminal defense lawyers. At David Aylor Law Offices, we will stand with you and represent your interests. The steps for getting off the sex offender registry can be complex. We are trained professionals, and we are ready to help you through the entire process.
Contact us for a free and confidential consultation about your situation. We are accepting new cases. If you qualify, we can start today to assert your rights and represent you in your case. Contact us now.