On May 23, 2022, Governor Henry D. McMaster signed Act 221, former House Bill 4075, into law. This Act affords all sex offenders in South Carolina a mechanism to seek removal from South Carolina’s lifetime sex offender registry in response to the South Carolina Supreme Court’s decision in Powell v. Keel. This bill creates state tiers for offenders and provides reasonable avenues for removal based on the offender’s applicable state tier.
For Adult Tier I Offenders
Adult Tier I Offenders may file a request for termination of the requirement of registration with SLED in a form and process established by SLED AFTER HAVING BEEN REGISTERED FOR AT LEAST FIFTEEN (15) YEARS if the offender was required to register based on an adjudication of delinquency or the offender was required to register as a Tier I offender.
For Adult Tier II Offenders
Adult Tier II Offenders may file a request for termination of the requirement of registration with SLED in a form and process established by SLED AFTER HAVING BEEN REGISTERED FOR AT LEAST TWENTY-FIVE (25) YEARS if the offender was required to register based on an adjudication of delinquency or the offender was required to register as a Tier II offender.
For Adult Tier III Offenders
Adult Tier III Offenders, there is no administrative request to SLED for termination. Rather, S.C. Code Ann. § 23-4-463 provides that an Adult Tier III Offender may file a motion with the general sessions court to request an order to be removed from the requirements of the sex offender registry act if the offender is a Tier III offender after thirty (30) years from the date of discharge from incarceration without supervision, or the termination of active supervision of probation, parole, or any other active alternative to incarceration.
OUT-OF-STATE Offender’s Convictions
Moving forward, in accordance with S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-463, if “the offender is required to register due to an out-of-state or federal conviction, the equivalent tier under the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 (Pub. L. 109 248), the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA) shall apply.”
Tier I Offenders:
The offender may file a request for termination of the requirement of registration with SLED in a form and process established by SLED AFTER HAVING BEEN REGISTERED FOR AT LEAST FIFTEEN YEARS.
Tier II Offenders:
The offender may file a request for termination of the requirement of registration with SLED in a form and process established by SLED AFTER HAVING BEEN REGISTERED FOR AT LEAST TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.
**However, S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-462(A)(1)(c) also provides that “an offender who was required to register as an offender because of a conviction in another state or because of a federal conviction may apply to be removed from the requirements of the registry if he is eligible to be removed under the laws of the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred.”
Juvenile Sex Offender Registration
Act 221, former House Bill 4075, also overhauls the treatment of juvenile sex offenders.
S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-436 governs the registration of juvenile sex offenders. It provides that “a child who is fourteen years of age or older and who has been adjudicated delinquent by a family court in this State for any Tier III offense is required to register in accordance with this article.”
In addition, S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-436(B) provides that a “child who is fourteen years of age or older and has been adjudicated delinquent of any other offense listed in Section 23-3-430(C) may be required, in the discretion of the family court, to register in accordance with this article.”
S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-436(C) also provides that a “child twelve years of age but less than fourteen years of age who has been adjudicated delinquent by a family court in this State for any Tier III offense may be required to register in the discretion of the Family Court.”
Finally, S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-436(D) indicates that a “resident child who is adjudicated delinquent in any other state is required to register in this State subject to the requirements of the sentencing jurisdiction including duration of registration.”
S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-437 provides an avenue for juvenile removal and states that a “juvenile convicted of an offense in family court who is required to register pursuant to the provisions of this article who has his record expunged, sealed, or receives a pardon must be removed from the registry by SLED.”
For ALL Juvenile Offenders adjudicated in South Carolina (regardless of State Tier):
The offender may file a request for termination of the requirement of registration with SLED, in a form and process established by SLED after having been registered for AT LEAST FIFTEEN YEARS if the offender was required to register based on AN ADJUDICATION OF DELINQUENCY….
Process to Apply for Removal
For Adult Tier I, Adult Tier II, and Juvenile Offenders:
Submitting an application to SLED seeking removal from the S.C. Sex Offender Registry does not remove an applicant’s requirement to register while SLED processes and adjudicates the application. Applicants must continue to register and update required information with the appropriate Sheriff’s Office responsible for their registration until the applicant has received formal written notice from SLED that the applicant no longer has to register. Any willful failure to register could result in criminal charges.
With regard to filing an application, SLED is currently only able to accept paper applications, which are available on SLED’s website. Once completed, these applications must be mailed to:
Application for Sex Offender Registry Removal
SLED SOR Unit
P.O. Box 21398
Columbia, SC 29221
The following information must accompany the request:
1.Completed SLED APPLICATION. (Available below).
2. Two (2) sets of recent fingerprints (Blue Card(FD-258)) from the applicant for SLED to conduct a fingerprint-based state and a federal criminal history check. (See below for locations)
**For SLED to proceed, the applicant “must not have been convicted of failure to register within the previous ten years” and “must not have been convicted of any additional sexual offense after being placed on the registry.” See S.C. Code Ann. § 23-3-462(A)(4), (5).
3. A non-refundable filing fee of $250.00, which can only be paid via money order or cashier’s check payable to "SLED". (SLED does not accept personal checks).
4. All sentencing sheets or other disposition documents for all convictions that required registration as a sex offender.
5. Proof that the applicant “successfully completed all sex offender treatment programs that were required.” This proof must be official documentation acknowledging successful completion.
Official documentation showing successful completion should come from the treatment provider, counselor, or doctor. Records of completion may exist for individuals supervised by the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. Individuals can contact SCDPPPS Records Management Services at firstname.lastname@example.org to request a records search.
Upon receipt of all the above-required documents and information, SLED will review the documentation provided by the offender, and will notify the original prosecuting agency for approval. If all the requirements of this section are verified, SLED shall, within one hundred twenty days of receipt of the request for termination, remove an offender’s name from the registry and notify the offender that the offender is no longer required to comply with the registry requirements of this article. If it is determined that the offender has been convicted of any prohibiting offenses during the applicable period, has not substantially complied with this section, or an objection has been filed by the original prosecuting agency, SLED shall not remove the offender’s name from the sex offender registry and shall notify the offender that the offender has not been relieved of the provisions in this article.
If the offender is denied a termination request by SLED, the offender may petition again for termination with SLED NO SOONER THAN FIVE YEARS AFTER THE PREVIOUS DENIAL.
This Application works best if opened in Adobe Acrobat Reader and NOT in the web browser.
Challenging SLED’s Determination
THERE IS NO APPEAL TO SLED. Rather, an offender whose request for termination of registration requirements is denied by SLED is entitled to appeal the denial to the general sessions court pursuant to the requirements of Section 23-3-463 for the county in which the conviction occurred if the conviction occurred within the State, or if not, the county in which the offender resides. Individuals placed on the registry as a juvenile should petition the family court that adjudicated them delinquent.
For fingerprinting services, persons applying for removal from the S.C. Sex Offender Registry can contact their local law enforcement agency and inquire about this service, or they may visit any IdentoGo location or similar service provider. For more information about IdentoGo, locations, and appointments, please visit www.identogo.com.
Local law enforcement and commercial providers may charge a fee for fingerprinting. This fee is not covered by the required $250.00 filing fee and is the applicant's responsibility.