South Carolina Governor vetoes bills to erase criminal history in gun and bad check cases

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed three bills Tuesday that would have required the erasing the records of people convicted of certain gun, fraudulent check and underage alcohol sales crimes.

The three vetoes are the only ones the governor has issued for the more than 130 bills passed this year by the General Assembly.

“Second chances should be freely given when individuals have made mistakes and paid their debt to society; however, criminal history, like all history, should not be erased,” McMaster wrote in his veto messages to lawmakers.

McMaster, a former federal prosecutor, urged employers to make an applicant’s criminal history instructive and not destructive, by asking for more information and context and not simply using it to rule people out.

The General Assembly can overturn the vetoes with a two-thirds vote when they return in June for a few days in Special Session.

One bill vetoed would allow anyone convicted of unlawful possession of a handgun before the state passed its open-carry law this year to have the charge expunged. That bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, and supporters said it’s only fair, now that it’s legal when people openly carry a weapon, to erase the records of people convicted shortly before the law was changed.

“That distinction misses the critical point that such actions were illegal at the time they were committed,” McMaster wrote. “If a person disobeys the law, consequences — including potential criminal prosecution, may follow even if a person believes a law should be changed.”

The second vetoed bill would require courts to expunge multiple counts of check fraud if the offender has stayed clean for 10 years. The third would allow a clerk or server who sold alcohol to an underage customer to automatically have that conviction erased if they complete an education program and don’t offend again.


Republished with permission from The Associated Press.

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