SC Pardon – What to Expect?

The decision to apply for a pardon is not always easy. Very few people seek a pardon twice, and thus the entire procedure is practically unknown to the applicant. So how do you prepare yourself for seeking a pardon?

The Department

First it is important to understand the procedure for a Pardon in South Carolina. Unlike other states, and classic depictions, pardons in South Carolina are not issued by the Governor. Instead, pardons are issued by the SC Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services. The SCDPPPS administers a Parole and Pardon Hearing process for all pardon applicants.

The Application

To have a hearing, a pardon seeker completes an application and submits it to the SCDPPPS.

The application includes identifying information, such as your name, address, and social security number, and employment and residence history for the past five years. Unless specifically requested, the SCDPPPS will contact your employer to verify your employment. (This can be worked around if your situation requires caution to continue your employment.)

You must provide a listing of all past criminal convictions, but should exclude minor traffic violations. It is important to list all SC convictions, and failure to do so could result in an incomplete pardon or a denial. This is also the place to disclose pending convictions.

Because not everyone can seek a pardon at any time, you must show the SCDPPPS that you qualify for a pardon. There are multiple qualifications, and you must identify the qualification under which you may seek a pardon.


The application is not everything. Your application must be accompanied by three letters of recommendation. The writers must know you were convicted, that you seek a pardon, and must address why they believe you are fit for a pardon.

This is a critical step, and selecting the right references can greatly influence the success or failure of your application. It is also important that your references effectively communicate their thoughts and reasonings in writing.

The Investigation

Upon receiving the application, the SCDPPPS begins to investigate your situation. They will verify your eligibility for a pardon and the information on your application. Finally, they examine your criminal history records.

As part of the application, you grant the SCDPPPS permission to examine all of your records for the purpose of the pardon application. All records include employment, military, school, and disciplinary records. (Note that the SCDPPPS will work with an applicant to prevent disclosing sensitive information to a current employer.)


A hearing will be scheduled after the SCDPPPS has collected and reviewed all of the necessary files and verified your eligibility for a pardon. Typically, the SCDPPPS will hear sixty some cases in a day, and no particular time is given for any specific case. You must be there at the beginning and wait until you are called.

When your case is called you will receive a hearing in front of the Parole and Pardon Hearing Board where you will be able to present your case for why you want a pardon. Here is where you can provide information on how a pardon will help you overcome your past and achieve your goals for the future. A compelling reason is an important ingredient in receiving a pardon.

And no hearing would be complete without questioning. The Board may ask questions based on your presentation, application, or any of your case files in their records.


If your conviction involved a victim, then the SCDPPPS will notify the victim that you are seeking a pardon. The victim will be given the chance to respond, and they may do so either in writing or at the hearing itself. If at the hearing, the SCDPPPS will take all steps possible to avoid any interaction between the victim and the applicant, and the applicant will be asked to leave the room prior to the victim testifying.

Hired Help

You do not have to go through this process alone. A lawyer familiar with this area of law can help evaluate your situation, identify weaknesses, and put together a solid application. When assisting clients I create a compelling statement for why the client seeks a pardon, and I work with the client’s references to ensure their letters are professional and beneficial. Finally, I accompany my clients to the hearing and ensure that key information is brought to the attention of the Hearing Board and the case is given a thorough review.


A pardon application is a bit of a mystery the first time you go through it. However, the procedure is much what you may expect for someone attempting to convince a board that they have moved beyond their past, reformed their life, and are worthy of forgiveness. I can lend a helping hand in making your case, presenting your references, and highlighting the important information. The SCDPPPS typically grants roughly 60% of pardon requests, and with an attorney your chances only increase. If you are ready to get your firearm rights back, and want to seek a pardon, do not hesitate to contact my office for help.

Making an SBR from a Pistol

Clients often intend to file a Form 1 and manufacture a Short Barreled Rifle from what is a pistol. Once the Form 1 is approved, the manufacturing bit is easy. Just add a stock.

However, what is more difficult is figuring out what to engrave and where. The what, name of manufacturer and location, is required by the BATFE. (And they are even so strict as to require a set depth for engraving!) The where however is firearm specific and a bit trickier.

The manufacturer, that’s you or your trust, must engrave the firearm, which in the eyes of the BATFE is the frame or receiver. For an AR-15 this is the lower receiver. Easy, and it allows you to swap out uppers.

For a Broomhandle Mauser this is the pistol itself. (Note: Don’t go engraving a historic firearm without doing your research. There are exceptions for curios and relics that qualify.)

The difficulty appears when you use a modular stock meant to fit on many firearms. For example the Sig Sauer Adaptive Carbine Platform (ACP). On first pass, you will want to engrave the ACP itself. But this is the stock, and the BATFE will not accept this! Instead you must engrave the frame or receiver of the firearm you actually intend to use in the ACP. (And that pistol will still be an SBR in the eyes of law even without the ACP.)

In summary, research before you manufacture to ensure you engrave the frame or receiver. When in doubt, or if you just need a second opinion, reach out to a professional firearms attorney. I have helped many South Carolinians with a Form 1, and I would be happy to help you determine your options and which option will give you the greatest flexibility.

The Less Intrusive Trust

Purchasing a National Firearm Act (NFA) regulated item through a trust is less intrusive than purchasing the same items as an individual. First, an individual purchaser of a NFA item must acquire the sign off of the Chief Law Enforcement Officer (CLEO) of his residence. Second, an individual must have his or her fingerprints taken on the proper FBI form and submit the same to the ATF for a background check. Third, an individual must submit passport style photographs less than six months old to the ATF. A Trust is not required to submit any of this information with its Form 4.

The signature of the CLEO is required to prove that the individual is a law abiding citizen and that the CLEO knows of no reason why he or she should not be permitted to purchase and own the firearm. In South Carolina this responsibility normally falls onto the county Sheriff. Unfortunately Sheriffs are busy with more pressing matters than signing off on a NFA purchase and the signature can take some time to work through the office. In some counties, the Sheriff has been known to not sign any request on principle. Because an individual only has one residence, and therefore one CLEO, this can effectively delay, or prevent, the purchase of a NFA firearm.

An individual must have his or her fingerprints taken on the appropriate FBI fingerprint cards. Most police stations will offer this service for a small fee, and it may be able to secure this at the same time you are seeking the CLEO’s permission to purchase a NFA firearm. However, it is more likely that this requirement represents another trip for the would be NFA owner.

Finally, passport photographs can be taken many places including some drugstores and post offices, but this will require you to take another chunk of time during business hours to have the photographs taken and the service is not free. Due to the delay for acquiring the CLEO’s signature, it is possible that the photographs could become too old to serve and the individual would be required to secure another set of photographs.

At best the individual must make at least two stops. One for the pictures and one for the CLEO sign off and fingerprints. At worst the individual may encounter a CLEO who does not believe in the ownership of NFA firearms and refuses to sign off regardless of your past history as a responsible citizen. Most individuals will encounter some level of paperwork between these two extremes likely resulting in several follow-up calls to the office of the CLEO to secure the necessary signature. Only once these tasks are completed can the individual proceed with filing the Form 4.

An trust purchasing a NFA firearm is not required to submit any of these items. This allows you to reduce your stops to just the gun shop and the attorney before filing your form 4. To further reduce the difficulty of purchasing a NFA item, I can represent clients across the state of South Carolina over the phone and internet and instruct any notary public in executing the trust. A trip to the office is not necessary, and many gun shops that I work with have a notary public on staff thereby effectively eliminating your need to go anywhere other than the gun shop. The only thing more convenient than buying a suppressor is buying the pistol to go with it!

By using a trust you do not have to alert your local CLEO to your intent to buy a NFA firearm, and you do not have to submit your fingerprints and photograph to be kept on file by the ATF. The trust allows you to keep your private life private, and in today’s world that is more important than ever.