South Carolina Background Checks and Public Records

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State of South Carolina

South Carolina is not big in size but it is the 23rd most populous state in the country. It is part of the Southeastern region of the United States (or the Deep South depending on how states are classified) and is one of the first places where European settlers lived. 

South Carolina, unlike its neighboring states, is not known for its robust economy but is a popular tourist destination. Population growth indicates people are coming to settle in the state each year. It would therefore be wise to expand to neighboring states when conducting a South Carolina background check.

Counties in South Carolina


Where To Get Public Records In South Carolina

South Carolina does not have a state records custodian. Record requests must be directed to the concerned division or agency that holds the particular record or document.

The DHEC’s Office of Public Health Statistics and Information Services (PHSIS) handles vital records. Such records include birth, death, marriage, divorce, and annulment records in South Carolina. State law requires only the persons named on the marriage certificate, adult children of the couple, or a present or former spouse can request records. While the State Office of the Division of Vital Records handles vital records searches statewide, the regional and county offices can also take care of the same requests.

The State Law Enforcement Department (SLED) handles criminal records. Anyone can have access to such records but the data available is limited to conviction records and arrest information. Only the law enforcement agencies and the subject of the records have access to the total records.

The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) handles information on all inmates currently housed from midnight of the previous day. You can register with them so they can send a status message for any changes in the particular inmate’s status. The South Carolina Judicial Branch handles court records. You may, however, need to look in the particular court where the case was handled. While some data is available online, it is best to visit the particular clerk of the court’s office, especially in making a formal request.

The Department of Archives and History handles land records and has made some of its archives like colonial plats for land grants, available online. Property Tax records are handled by the county tax assessor. Deed records can be searched by the county and are handled by the county clerk.

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records in South Carolina

There is a South Carolina Law that grants access to the records and meetings of public officials and representatives known as the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act. There is another law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, pregnancy, or national origin. Meanwhile, the South Carolina Public Record Law states records must be released within 15 days and no response to a request within that period represents a grant for the request. There are, of course, exemptions to the documents covered by these laws.

In the case of a rejected request, you have one year to file your case in court. Some documents are available online while some require formal requests that could be sent via email, mail, or phone to the record-holding department. Note that each department is different hence there may be variations in rules. The law requires only the lowest possible fee must be charged. Fees can even be reduced or waived if the concerned department decides that the request benefits the general public.

You may always opt to utilize a reliable third-party people search engine to do a regular or criminal background check.

South Carolina Background Check Reports

People conduct background checks for various reasons, the most common is employment. South Carolina maintains a comprehensive online database called South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Citizens Access to Criminal Histories or SLED CATCH. A background report through SLED may be submitted online or via U.S. mail. Mail-in requests may take longer than the usual 3-7 days but the $25 fee is waived.

South Carolina background checks are regulated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). South Carolina is yet to pass a ban-the-bow law.

To avoid the hassle or if you simply do not have time to go through the aforementioned process, there are third-party sites offering background checking services.

South Carolina Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About South Carolina Background Checks

How far back does a background check go in South Carolina?

South Carolina background checks typically go back 7 years with the possible exception of bankruptcies which can be reported for 10 years.

What disqualifies you in a background check?

There are several reasons you may not pass a background check, including but not limited to: criminal history, education discrepancies, falsified employment records, failed substance use test, poor credit history, and bad credit record.

How much is a background check in SC?

In South Carolina, a criminal background check approximately costs $25. 

Do misdemeanors go away in South Carolina?

Misdemeanor convictions may be expunged if they carry a maximum sentence of 30 days and/or $1000. Expungement could be applied for after three years (five years for domestic violence) granted there are no other convictions within that time.