South Carolina established the Youthful Offender Act in an effort to deal with the influx of younger individuals (under 25 years of age) into the criminal justice system. The purpose of a Youthful Offender Act sentence is to afford a young person certain opportunities that are not available to those individuals who are entering the Department of Corrections for a period of incarceration, or starting a period of supervision by the Probation Department. Individuals incarcerated under the Youthful Offender Act are required to be housed with others who are less than 25 years old and the amount of time that has to be served is dependent upon how the offender conducts himself while at the Department of Corrections.
The most significant benefit of a Youthful Offender Act sentence to a young person is the opportunity for the expungement of his or her criminal records relating to the offense. The most common criminal offenses that are eligible for expungement under the Youthful Offender Act include non-violent drug offenses. Other non-violent offenses may be eligible for expungement under the Youthful Offender Act, so it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney that is familiar with this law so that you can effectively negotiate a sentence prior to entering a plea.
Following a first offense conviction under the Youthful Offender Act, you may apply for the expungement of your records. You are eligible to apply five years after you complete your sentence (which includes completion of any probationary sentence). DUIs and certain crimes, including those classified as “violent” by section 16-1-60 of the South Carolina Code are not eligible for expungement.
You cannot be convicted of any other crimes during the five year waiting period to be eligible for expungement. You are allowed to be granted only one expungement.
One of my main objectives in representing clients who are facing criminal charges is to create an opportunity for them to have a clean record in the future. This goal can be accomplished through effective plea negotiations and a thorough understanding of what drug charges may be eligible for expungement under the Youthful Offender Act.
Those who are sentenced under the Youthful Offender Act also may qualify for participation in the Intensive Supervision Services Program offered by the South Carolina Department of Corrections. The program provides support for young people released from incarceration to enroll in community