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South Carolina Public Records

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The following is for informational purposes only

What are South Carolina Public Records, and How are They Created?

South Carolina Public Records

Per South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act, the general public may be granted access to most public records created by any "public body." Their laws define a public body as: "means any department of the State, a majority of directors or their representatives of departments within the executive branch of state government as outlined in Section 1-30-10, any state board, commission, agency, and authority, any public or governmental body or political subdivision of the State, including counties, municipalities, townships, school districts, and special purpose districts, or any organization, corporation, or agency supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds, including committees, subcommittees, advisory committees, and the like of any such body by whatever name is known, and includes any quasi-governmental body of the State and its political subdivisions, including, without limitation, bodies such as the South Carolina Public Service Authority and the South Carolina State Ports Authority."

Some examples of public bodies that create, store, maintain, and share public records are the courts, Secretary of State office, the Attorney General's Office, law enforcement, and town offices.

"Public record includes all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in possession of, or retained by a public body."

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History is the government agency in charge of preserving historical documents and all public records. Along with vital records they also keep collections including veteran's records, "Will Transcripts (1782-1855); Records of Confederate Veterans (1909-1973); Plats for State Land Grants (1784-1868); Legislative Papers (1782-1866); Criminal Court Records (1769-1891); School Insurance Photographs (1935-1952); and National Register Properties."


How to Access South Carolina Public Records?

How to Access South Carolina Public Records

There is no central agency in South Carolina where you can request public records. However, every government agency is required by law to respond to all public records requests within ten days. Each public body has the right to charge you a fee when supplying copies of public records. The basic guidelines are:

  • Figure out what government public body has the records you need.
  • Ask if there is a specific officer in charge of public records requests.
  • Submit your request in writing and be very specific about the records you need.
  • Await the response.
  • If your request is denied, you can take it up with the Attorney General's Office.

Different Types of Public Records in South Carolina

South Carolina Criminal Records

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has set up an online portal called SLED CATCH to allow the public to search, view, and print criminal records for offenders in South Carolina. This is not a national background check but will show you information for anyone arrested and convicted in South Carolina. You can also check the courts for South Carolina criminal records or check with the South Carolina Department of Corrections to find information on convicted felons.

Some common types of criminal records in South Carolina include (but are not limited to):

  • Felony and Misdemeanor Records - some common misdemeanors in South Carolina are trespassing on the grounds of a domestic violence shelter, possession of a narcotic, and slander or libel. Some common felonies in South Carolina include criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, carjacking, murder, robbery, and bank robbery.
  • South Carolina Inmate Search - both jails and prisons keep inmate records, and those too are public records. The South Carolina Department of Corrections has an online search tool you can use to locate criminals and their records.
  • Police Records - local police can provide copies of incident reports, police reports, sometimes mugshots, and even crime scene photos upon request.

South Carolina Court Records

Different Types of Public Records in South Carolina

The South Carolina Judicial Branch is the government agency in charge of Court records in South Carolina. They have an online portal where the public can easily search for public court records. The search portal is available for courts in all South Carolina counties. They also allow you to pay fees online and e-file forms. Their website is full of helpful information such as judge's bios, a court calendar, resources for the public and legal professionals. 

Some types of court records in South Carolina include:

  • Civil Court Records - domestic relations cases such as divorces, marriages, paternity lawsuits, custody and child support cases, estates, conservatorships, wills, civil lawsuits, and small claims lawsuits.
  • Criminal Court Records - criminal filings for misdemeanors, felonies, and other citations. These may include things like trial paperwork, sentencing, prison transfers, and evidence related to the court case.
  • Financial Court Records - bankruptcies, liens, tax issues, company stock filings, and corporate financial reports.
  • Other Court Records - such as bench warrants, arrest warrants, judgments, traffic tickets, and other traffic violations, worker's compensation cases, and name changes.

The court system in South Carolina consists of five levels starting with the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court, then the Family and Magistrate Courts and Probate and Municipal Courts.

South Carolina Arrest Records

You can easily find South Carolina arrest records using the SLED CATCH portal through the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. However, some warrants and arrest records may not be readily available if their release would jeopardize a criminal case. You may also consult the South Carolina court records or the Department of Corrections to find arrest information.

Some different types of arrests records in South Carolina are:

  • Drug charges.
  • Murder.
  • Shoplifting.
  • Simple assault.
  • Libel.
  • Domestic abuse.
  • Bigamy.
  • DUIs.
  • Sexual abuse.
  • Booking details like fingerprints and mugshots.
  • Arrest warrants granted by a judge.
  • Bench warrants for not appearing in court.
  • Crime scene photos.
  • Witness statements.
  • Property crimes and accompanying paperwork.
  • Vehicle records if one was used during the crime.

South Carolina Vital Records

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is the agency in charge of vital records for the state. They issue birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates upon request. You must pay a fee when requesting, but you can order online, through the mail, or in person. This agency also handles adoption information. They use the VitalChek service for online or phone orders.


Other Public Records in South Carolina

Other Public Records in South Carolina

Along with criminal, court, arrest, and vital records, other types of public records you can find in the state of South Carolina include, but are not limited to:

  • Government budgets and annual reports.
  • Driving records (without personally identifiable information).
  • Home addresses.
  • Maps, books, and tapes.
  • State health and wellness statistics.
  • Air and water quality (pollution reports).
  • SC property records, real estate deals, and land deeds.
  • Home phone numbers.
  • Police and accident reports.
  • Liens & tax issues.
  • Company incorporation records.
  • Demographics.
  • Library Research.
  • Personnel records for state agencies.
  • Permits, licenses, and certifications.
  • Government employee salaries.
  • * 911 time response logs.
  • Grant applications.
  • Contracts involving government agencies.
  • Settlement agreements.
  • Agency decisions.
  • Name, title, and salary of public employees and officials.

What Information is Not Public Record in South Carolina?

"Records such as income tax returns, medical records, hospital medical staff reports, scholastic records, adoption records, records related to registration, and circulation of library materials which contain names or other personally identifying details regarding the users of public, private, school, college, technical college, university, and state institutional libraries and library systems, supported in whole or in part by public funds or expending public funds, or records which reveal the identity of the library patron checking out or requesting an item from the library or using other library services, except non-identifying administrative and statistical reports of registration and circulation, and other records which by law are required to be closed to the public are not considered to be made open to the public under the provisions of this act."

Some additional things that are not included in South Carolina public records are:

"Personal identifying information" includes, but is not limited to:

  • (1) social security numbers;
  • (2) driver's license numbers or state identification card numbers issued instead of a driver's license;
  • (3) checking account numbers;
  • (4) savings account numbers;
  • (5) credit card numbers;
  • (6) debit card numbers;
  • (7) personal identification (PIN) numbers;
  • (8) electronic identification numbers;
  • (9) digital signatures;
  • (10) dates of birth;
  • (11) current or former names, including first and last names, middle and last names, or first, middle, and last names, but only when the names are used in combination with, and linked to, other identifying information provided in this section;
  • (12) current or former addresses, but only when the addresses are used in combination with, and linked to, other identifying information provided in this section; or
  • (13) other numbers, passwords, or information which may be used to access a person's financial resources, numbers, or information issued by a governmental or regulatory entity that uniquely will identify an individual or an individual's financial resources."