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South Carolina Public Records

Under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the public is granted the right to access information contained in public records. This right is subject to limitations imposed by Section 30-4-40 or other applicable state and federal laws. Individuals are entitled to view, copy, or receive an electronic copy of any public record from a public body, provided that their request complies with regulations regarding reasonable access. However, this right is not available to individuals who are currently serving a sentence in a state or county correctional facility within this state, in another state, or in a federal correctional institution.

How to request South Carolina Public Records?

Public records in South Carolina are accessible to everyone, regardless of residency status.

Table of Contents

To request South Carolina public records, proceed with the steps below:

Where to find Public Records in South Carolina

Depending on the type of record you are seeking, there are numerous options for where you can find public records in South Carolina.

Vital Records (Birth, Death, Marriage, Divorce):

The South Carolina Division of Vital Records is responsible for maintaining birth, death, marriage, and divorce records. These records can be requested online or in person. For more information and to access these services, visit the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) website​​​​.

Property Records:

Property records in South Carolina, including information on ownership, legal descriptions, size, and zoning, are recorded by the Recorder of Deeds or the Clerk of Courts, depending on the county. These records can be accessed online. For more details and to search for property records, visit the South Carolina Land Records website​​​​.

Business Records:

Business records in South Carolina can be accessed through the Secretary of State's online system. This includes searching for organizations doing business in the state.

Court Records:

Court records in South Carolina, including civil and criminal cases, can be accessed online through the South Carolina Judicial Branch's Case Search and Search Opinions portals. For more details and to search for court records, visit the South Carolina Court Records website​​​​.

Driving Records:

Driving records in South Carolina can be ordered online through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) portal, by mail, or in person. For further details and to request driving records, visit the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles website and the DMV's online services portal​​​​.

Professional Licenses

The Department of Labor, License, and Regulation manages professional licensing in South Carolina.

South Carolina State Archives:

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History preserves and provides access to the state's historical records. These records span over 325 years of history and are accessible to genealogists, scholars, students, and the general public.

Are South Carolina Public Records Available Online?

Yes, accessing South Carolina public records online is possible through various platforms:

  • Assessor’s, Tax Collector’s, and Treasurer’s Offices Records: For records from these offices, you can use the NETRONLINE portal. This portal provides access to a range of public records related to property and taxation. Visit the NETRONLINE website for more information.
  • Vital Records: To access vital records like marriage, divorce, birth, and death certificates, as well as information on inmates, bankruptcy, addresses, phone numbers, and sex offender data, you can visit South Carolina State Records. Additionally, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) also offers a vital records search through their official website.
  • Judicial Cases: For judicial case records, you can use the South Carolina courts’ public index search page. This platform allows you to search for cases by selecting the relevant county. Visit the South Carolina Judicial Branch website for accessing court records.
  • Criminal Cases: To obtain records of criminal cases, the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Department (SLED) website is the go-to source. Access criminal case information through the SLED website.
  • Court Records, Property Deeds, Licenses, and Business Information: SearchSystems.net is a comprehensive directory that offers access to court records, property deeds, licenses, and business information across South Carolina. You can search by counties or cities and find data on various public records, including birth, death, marriage, and criminal case information. Visit SearchSystems.net for detailed searches.

These portals provide streamlined access to a wide array of public records, making it easier for individuals and organizations to find the information they need.

State Public Records Law

As per the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), every citizen who wishes to seek information in public records has the right to do so.

Which records are public in South Carolina?

Which Records are Not Public in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, certain records are maintained with strict confidentiality due to their sensitive nature. Each category of these private records is detailed below:

South Carolina Background Checks

South Carolina background checks are processes used to collect and review someone’s personal, professional, and legal history. These checks are often conducted by employers, landlords, and other entities to assess the trustworthiness and reliability of individuals. The contents of a background check report in South Carolina can vary depending on its purpose and the depth of the inquiry.

What Can Be Included In a Background Check Report?

Criminal Records

This includes records of arrests, convictions, and incarcerations. It might cover state and county records, detailing any misdemeanors or felonies.

Employment History

This part verifies the individual's previous employment, including job titles, duration of employment, and reasons for leaving.

Education Verification

Background checks often include a verification of educational records, confirming degrees, diplomas, and certifications obtained.

Credit History

For certain roles, especially those involving financial responsibilities, a credit history check might be included. This shows credit scores, debt records, and financial responsibility.

Driving Records

These records are relevant for positions requiring driving. They include driving history, license status, and any driving-related offenses.

Sex Offender Registry Check

This check determines if the individual is listed on the state's sex offender registry, which is important for positions involving contact with vulnerable populations.

Personal References

Sometimes, background checks include reaching out to personal references to gain insights into the individual's character and past behavior.

Drug Testing Results

For certain jobs, drug testing might be part of the background check process, ensuring compliance with workplace policies.

Professional License Verification

This ensures that the individual holds any professional licenses claimed, which is crucial for specific fields like healthcare, law, and education.

Social Media Profiles

Increasingly, background checks may also scrutinize an individual's presence and activity on social media platforms to gauge character and behavior.

South Carolina Court Records

Overview of the South Carolina court system and its Structure

The South Carolina court system is a structured and multi-tiered judiciary, designed to handle a variety of legal matters, ranging from minor infractions to complex legal disputes. Here’s an overview of its structure:

  • Supreme Court: At the top of the hierarchy is the South Carolina Supreme Court, the state’s highest court. It has ultimate jurisdiction over all lower courts and decides on matters of state law. The Supreme Court also oversees the administration of the state’s judiciary system.
  • Court of Appeals: Below the Supreme Court is the South Carolina Court of Appeals. This court reviews decisions from lower courts and is primarily responsible for correcting errors that may have occurred in the legal proceedings. It acts as an intermediate appellate court.
  • Circuit Courts: These are the general jurisdiction trial courts for South Carolina. The Circuit Courts handle major criminal cases, civil cases, and appeals from lower courts, including family, probate, magistrate, and municipal courts. They are divided into two divisions: the Court of Common Pleas (civil cases) and the Court of General Sessions (criminal cases).
  • Family Courts: Exclusive to South Carolina, Family Courts deal specifically with matters of family law, such as divorce, child custody, and juvenile matters. These courts focus on the needs and issues of families and children in legal disputes.
  • Probate Courts: Probate Courts in South Carolina handle matters related to wills, estates, guardianships, and mental health commitments. They are responsible for administering estates and trusts, among other duties.
  • Magistrates Courts: These are lower courts with limited jurisdiction. Magistrates Courts handle minor criminal offenses, small claims, traffic violations, and other minor civil cases. They are the first level of the court system and are present in each county.
  • Municipal Courts: Operating within towns and cities, Municipal Courts handle cases involving municipal ordinances, traffic offenses, and other minor criminal matters within their respective municipalities.
  • Specialty Courts: South Carolina also has several specialized courts designed to address specific issues, such as Drug Courts, Mental Health Courts, and Veterans Courts. These courts focus on rehabilitation and tailored solutions rather than traditional punitive measures.

Each level of the South Carolina court system plays a critical role in the administration of justice, ensuring that all matters, from the most minor to the most complex, are adjudicated fairly and according to the law. The structure is designed to provide a comprehensive and accessible judicial process for all residents of the state.

Types of South Carolina Court Records

South Carolina Civil and Small Claims Records

South Carolina Criminal Records

Family Court Records​

South Carolina Probate Records

South Carolina Traffic Records

Restrictions, Limitations, and Confidentiality

In South Carolina, while many court records are accessible to the public, there are specific restrictions, limitations, and confidentiality measures in place to balance transparency with privacy and security concerns. Certain records are deemed confidential and are not available for public inspection. These include juvenile records, adoption records, certain family court records, and any records that a court has specifically ordered to be sealed.

Additionally, records involving sensitive personal information, such as social security numbers, financial account information, and details of domestic abuse or sexual assault, are typically redacted or withheld to protect the privacy of individuals involved. The state also adheres to the principles of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and other relevant laws to regulate the dissemination and use of court records, especially in the context of employment, housing, and credit.

Thus, while South Carolina’s judiciary system supports public access to court records, it simultaneously imposes necessary restrictions to safeguard individual rights and the integrity of the legal system.

What do these records contain

South Carolina Public Vital Records

Marriage and Divorce Records: In South Carolina, marriage and divorce records are vital documents that provide official documentation of marital status changes within the state. Marriage records typically include details such as the names of the spouses, the date and place of marriage, and the officiant. Divorce records, on the other hand, contain information about the dissolution of the marriage, including the names of the parties involved, the date of the divorce, and the court where the divorce was granted. These records are maintained and accessible through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and can be requested for various legal, personal, and genealogical purposes. For accessing these records or for more information, individuals can visit the SCDHEC’s official website.

Birth and Death Records:Birth and death records in South Carolina are essential public documents that record life’s key events. Birth records provide details such as the name of the newborn, date and place of birth, and parents’ information, while death records include information on the deceased’s name, date, and place of death, as well as the cause of death. These records are invaluable for various purposes, including legal documentation, genealogical research, and personal record-keeping. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) is responsible for maintaining these vital records and making them available to eligible individuals and entities. For more information or to request birth and death records in South Carolina, you can visit the SCDHEC’s Vital Records website.

South Carolina Public Criminal Records

Definition and Types of Criminal Records in South Carolina

Criminal records in South Carolina are official documents that provide a detailed account of an individual’s criminal history within the state. These records typically contain the following information:

  • Personal Identification: This includes the individual’s name, date of birth, physical descriptions (like height, weight, and distinguishing marks or tattoos), and sometimes fingerprints and photographs.
  • Arrest Records: Details of arrests, including the date, location, the law enforcement agency involved, and the reason for the arrest.
  • Charges Filed: Specific charges filed against the individual, which can range from misdemeanors to felonies, along with the relevant statutes or legal codes.
  • Court Proceedings: Records of court appearances, hearings, and trials related to the charges, including dates and outcomes of these proceedings.
  • Sentencing Information: If convicted, the record will include details of the sentence imposed, such as incarceration, probation, fines, or community service.
  • Incarceration Records: Details of any jail or prison time served, including the facility where the sentence was served, the duration, and any parole or release information.
  • Probation or Parole Details: Information on any probation or parole, including terms and conditions, duration, and compliance status.
  • Dismissed Charges or Acquittals: Records may also contain information on charges that were later dismissed or cases where the individual was acquitted.

Police Records and Reports

Police records and reports in South Carolina encompass a variety of documents, including incident reports, arrest records, and investigation notes. These records provide details on police interactions, criminal activities, and investigative findings. They are maintained by local police departments and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and are generally available to the public.

Booking Records and Reports

Booking records in South Carolina document the process of an individual being taken into custody by law enforcement. These records include personal information about the individual, the charges, and the date and time of the booking. Booking reports are held by the arresting agency or the detention facility and can usually be accessed through their respective websites or records departments.

DUI Records

DUI (Driving Under the Influence) records in South Carolina are criminal records that detail incidents of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These records include information on the arrest, charges, court proceedings, and any resulting convictions or penalties. They are maintained by both law enforcement agencies and the courts and can be accessed through court records or through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for driving history-related DUI information.

Felony and Misdemeanor Records

Felony and misdemeanor records in South Carolina are part of an individual’s criminal history and detail any felony or misdemeanor convictions. These records include information on the nature of the crime, court proceedings, and sentencing. They are maintained by the courts that adjudicated the cases and can be accessed through the public records divisions of these courts.

Parole Records

Parole records in South Carolina contain information about individuals who have been released from prison under parole supervision. These records detail the conditions of parole, the duration, and the compliance status of the parolee. The South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services maintains them.

Probation Records

Probation records in South Carolina document the terms and conditions of an individual's probation, which is an alternative to prison. These records include details about the probation period, compliance, and any violations. They are managed by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services

Warrant Search

In South Carolina, warrant searches allow individuals to check for outstanding warrants issued by courts. Warrants are documents that authorize law enforcement to make an arrest, conduct a search, or carry out a similar action. They are typically accessible through the websites of local law enforcement agencies or courts.

Inmate And Jail Records

Inmate and jail records in South Carolina provide information about individuals currently or previously incarcerated in state or local facilities. These records include personal details of the inmates, their charges, sentence lengths, and incarceration details. They can be accessed through the South Carolina Department of Corrections or the respective county jail's website.

What you can find

Inmate records in South Carolina provide comprehensive information about individuals who are currently or have been incarcerated in the state’s correctional facilities. These records typically contain the following details:

  • Personal Information: This includes the inmate’s full name, date of birth, gender, and sometimes physical characteristics like height, weight, and identifying marks or tattoos.
  • Inmate Identification Number: Each inmate is assigned a unique identification number used for tracking and administrative purposes within the correctional system.
  • Incarceration Details: The record shows the date of incarceration, the specific correctional facility where the inmate is or was held, and the security level of the facility (if applicable).
  • Criminal Offense(s): Inmate records detail the specific charges or convictions that led to the incarceration, including the nature of the offenses and the statutes or legal codes involved.
  • Sentence Information: This includes the length and type of sentence imposed, such as imprisonment, life sentence, or death penalty (in applicable cases).
  • Parole or Probation Details: If the inmate is eligible for parole or was sentenced to probation, these details, including eligibility dates and conditions, are included.
  • Release Date: The projected or actual release date of the inmate is provided, which can change based on factors like good behavior or parole decisions.
  • Disciplinary Actions: The records may also contain information about any disciplinary actions taken against the inmate during their time in custody.

How to Perform an Inmate Search in South Carolina

Performing an inmate search in South Carolina is a straightforward process, primarily facilitated through online resources provided by the state. Here’s how you can conduct an inmate search:

  • Use the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) Website: The primary tool for an inmate search in South Carolina is the SCDC’s online inmate search system. Visit the SCDC website.
  • Search by Inmate Information: On the SCDC inmate search page, you can search for an inmate using their SCDC ID, State Identification (SID) number, or by entering their name. The system allows for partial name entries, which can be useful if you’re unsure of the exact spelling.
  • Review Search Results: The search results will typically provide a list of inmates matching your query. Each entry will include the inmate’s name, SCDC ID, and other pertinent information, such as their incarceration status and location.
  • Access Inmate Details: By selecting an inmate from the search results, you can access more detailed information. This usually includes the inmate’s offense, sentence length, projected release date, and the facility where they are being held.
  • Contact the Facility for More Information: If you need more specific information or have questions about an inmate’s status, you can contact the correctional facility where the inmate is housed. The SCDC website provides contact details for each facility.
  • Use Third-Party Websites (If Necessary): In addition to the SCDC’s own search tool, there are third-party websites that aggregate inmate information. However, for the most accurate and up-to-date information, it’s advisable to use the official SCDC resource.
  • Follow Privacy and Use Guidelines: Be aware that there are privacy laws and use guidelines governing the use of inmate information. Ensure that your search and use of the information comply with these regulations.

Can I look up mugshots in South Carolina?

South Carolina arrest records are official documents that provide information about an individual’s apprehension or detention by law enforcement authorities in the state.

South Carolina Arrest Records

South Carolina arrest records refer to official documents and records that document an individual’s arrest by law enforcement authorities within the state. These records provide information about the circumstances, charges, and outcomes of an arrest. The primary purpose of arrest records is to create a comprehensive record of an individual’s involvement with the criminal justice system and to ensure transparency and accountability in law enforcement activities.

What Do These Records Contain:

These records typically contain the following details:

  • Personal Information: This includes the arrested individual’s name, date of birth, physical description (like height, weight, and any distinguishing marks), and sometimes a photograph or mugshot.
  • Arrest Details: Information about the specific incident leading to the arrest, including the date, time, and location of the arrest.
  • Charges: The specific criminal charges or allegations for which the individual was arrested. This could range from minor infractions to serious felonies.
  • Law Enforcement Agency: The name of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest, which could be a local police department, county sheriff’s office, or a state law enforcement agency.
  • Booking Information: Data from the booking process, such as the booking number, the time of booking, and any bail or bond information.
  • Case Information: Basic details about any related court case, including the case number and court of jurisdiction, if available at the time of the arrest.
  • Disposition of Arrest: If available, the records may also include the outcome of the arrest, such as whether charges were dropped, if there was a conviction, or if the case is still pending.

South Carolina Property and Asset Records Online

In South Carolina, property and asset records provide comprehensive information about real estate ownership, assessments, and property value, and these records can typically be accessed online. These records are essential for various purposes such as real estate transactions, property valuation for tax purposes, and legal proceedings involving property disputes. Most counties in South Carolina have websites where you can access these records, often through the County Assessor’s, Recorder’s, or Tax Collector’s office. For instance, you can search for property information through the South Carolina Land Records website.

Unclaimed Properties in South Carolina

Additionally, South Carolina maintains a database of unclaimed properties, which includes financial assets like unclaimed wages, bank accounts, security deposits, and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been forgotten or left unclaimed. This unclaimed property is held by the state until the rightful owners or their heirs claim it. The South Carolina State Treasurer’s office manages this program, and individuals can search for and claim any unclaimed property that may belong to them through the South Carolina Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Program website. This service is an important financial resource for citizens of South Carolina to recover assets that are rightfully theirs.

Driving Records

Finding driving records in South Carolina is a process that can be completed through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SC DMV). Here’s how you can obtain your driving records:

  • Online Access: The most convenient way to access your driving records is through the SC DMV’s online services portal. Visit the SC DMV website, where you can request and view your driving record. You’ll need to create an account or log in if you already have one.
  • Request by Mail: If you prefer, you can request your driving record by mail. You’ll need to complete the appropriate form (usually Form MV-70, available on the SC DMV website), include the required fee, and mail it to the address provided on the form.
  • In-Person Request: You can also visit a local SC DMV office to request your driving record in person. Ensure you have valid identification and the necessary fee. The DMV staff will assist you with your request.
  • Fees: There is a fee for obtaining a copy of your driving record. The fee amount and payment options can be found on the SC DMV website or at any DMV office.
  • Information Included: Your South Carolina driving record will include your driving history, traffic violations, accidents, points against your license, and any suspensions or revocations.
  • Confidentiality: Be aware that your driving record contains personal information, so it should be handled securely and used responsibly.
  • For Third-Party Requests: If an employer or other third party needs to access your driving record, they can do so with your consent. The process is similar, but they may need to provide additional documentation.

Civil Driving Infractions

Civil driving infractions in South Carolina refer to non-criminal violations of traffic laws, which are typically less severe than criminal offenses like driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving. These infractions are usually punishable by fines, points on your driving record, and potentially increased insurance rates rather than jail time. Common civil driving infractions in South Carolina include:

  • Speeding: Driving above the posted speed limit or too fast for conditions.
  • Failure to Obey Traffic Signals: This includes running red lights or stop signs, and failing to yield the right-of-way.
  • Improper Lane Usage: Such as changing lanes without signaling, driving in the wrong lane, or failing to maintain lane discipline.
  • Seat Belt and Child Restraint Violations: Not wearing a seat belt as an adult, or not properly securing a child in an appropriate child restraint system.
  • Equipment Violations: Driving with faulty equipment such as broken headlights, taillights, or other vehicle defects that violate safety standards.
  • Illegal Parking: Parking in no-parking zones, handicap spaces without a permit, or other restricted areas.
  • Expired Registration or Inspection: Operating a vehicle with an expired registration sticker or failing to pass mandatory vehicle inspections.
  • Texting or Cell Phone Use While Driving: In South Carolina, it is illegal to text while driving, and there may be restrictions on cell phone use, especially for new or young drivers.

South Carolina White Pages - Find People, Addresses, and Other Non-Official Information

Address Search ​

Address searches in South Carolina are a useful tool for obtaining information about a specific property or location within the state. This type of search can reveal details about the ownership of a property, its valuation, property tax records, and historical information like previous owners or property modifications. Address searches are often used in real estate transactions, legal proceedings, and by individuals researching neighborhood safety or property investment opportunities. The information can typically be accessed through county assessor or recorder websites, where public property records are maintained and made available for public viewing.

People Search​

People searches in South Carolina are designed to locate and gather information about individuals residing in the state. These searches can provide a variety of data, including contact information, public records, and social media profiles. People searches are commonly used for reconnecting with lost contacts, conducting background checks, or genealogical research. Access to this information is available through various online directories and public record databases, although the depth and accuracy of the information can vary depending on the source.

Can I Search By a Phone Number and Identify The Owner?

Yes, it is possible to identify the owner of a specific phone number using reverse phone lookup services. These services correlate and provide information associated with phone numbers, including names, addresses, contact details, and occasionally profile photographs and social media profiles. There are multiple methods available for conducting a reverse phone number lookup, such as searching by address, name, or other associated details.

License Plate Lookup in South Carolina

In South Carolina, license plate lookup involves searching for information associated with a vehicle’s license plate number. However, access to this information is restricted due to privacy laws and regulations. Here’s a general guide on how you might go about it:

  • Law Enforcement and DMV Requests: Typically, license plate information is available to law enforcement and through the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for official purposes. If you’re involved in a legal matter, such as a hit-and-run accident or a traffic violation dispute, law enforcement or legal representatives can access this information.
  • Limited Public Access: For the general public, accessing someone’s personal information through a license plate number is restricted to protect privacy. The DMV or other state agencies will not provide personal information linked to a license plate without proper authorization or a legitimate reason that complies with the law.
  • Report to Authorities: If you have a valid reason to find information related to a license plate (e.g., in the case of a traffic incident), your best course of action is to report it to the police. They can use this information in their investigations.
  • Third-Party Services: There are online third-party services that offer license plate lookups. However, be cautious, as they may not provide accurate or up-to-date information, and their legality might vary. Always ensure that these services comply with the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) and other relevant laws.
  • Privacy and Legal Considerations: Always respect privacy and legal restrictions when attempting to look up license plate information. Using this information for illegitimate purposes can lead to legal consequences.

For the most part, private individuals cannot legally access someone’s personal information through a license plate lookup in South Carolina. If you need this information for a valid legal reason, your best option is to go through the appropriate legal channels or law enforcement agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who and why can request public records?

Anyone can request public records in South Carolina, regardless of their reason, as part of the state’s commitment to transparency and open government. People often request these records for personal, legal, journalistic, or research purposes.

Are there fees associated with requesting public records?

Yes, while accessing public records in South Carolina is generally permissible, there may be fees associated for searching, copying, or processing these records, which are intended to cover the administrative costs.

Are public records Free to access?

Accessing public records in South Carolina is typically free in terms of viewing them, especially if done online or in person at a public office; however, there might be fees for obtaining copies or for extensive searches.

What is the response time for public records requests?

Under the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), public bodies are required to respond to records requests within 10 working days, either by providing the records, issuing a notice of extension, or stating the reasons for non-disclosure.

Can my request be rejected?

Yes, your request for public records in South Carolina can be rejected if the requested records are exempt under the FOIA, such as those related to personal privacy, law enforcement investigations, or legally protected confidential information.

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