March 28, 2023, 8:04 am
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General Information About South Carolina Public Records and Laws
In South Carolina, public records are available for individuals who request the information. The South Carolina Code of Laws, Title 30 provides the right to individuals who wish to access information. In fact, this law lists a total of 15 chapters each containing specific information and guidelines as to what is considered public record and what is private information. The agencies are instructed, under law, to keep these records and are charged with the responsibility for maintaining them.
What Is Public Record?
Each state has the right and ability to specifically state what is considered to be public record and what is not. The ruling for this in South Carolina is specific to a point. Most information is outlined in Chapter 4 of this code which outlines what data individuals can request. However, it does offer some limitations, too. In short, individuals have the right to know how and what their government is running, but there is some data thought to be too sensitive and therefore inaccessible.
Some types of non-public information under the state's laws include the following. This is not an exhaustive list.
·         Information regarding the medical records of individuals
·         Individual students' school records or prospective student scoring
·         Information regarding the government that, if provided, would restrict its function or lead to a dangerous situation for individuals, including emergency strategies and confidential communications
·         Information that would provide the contact information for public officials, including undercover police officers
·         Any information that is thought to be too personal and would violate privacy laws
It is also possible that a judge can rule specific information inaccessible. This information may include items such as juvenile records or sensitive court cases. This information becomes unavailable to the general public.
Obtaining Public Records
Legally, a government agency must provide specific steps for individuals to take to access any general public knowledge and information. In South Carolina, this means providing access to information during normal business hours and allowing for the viewing or copying of that information.
Individuals can do this in several ways. They can visit the location that holds and manages the data and request a copy or to view the information. In some cases, a written, formal request is necessary. In other cases, the state's departments may have included information online that is searchable. Third party organizations also offer some information online.
The following is a list of some of the most sought after agencies and the information they have available.
·         For vital statistics, contact the South Carolina DHEC, Vital Records.
·         For corporation records, business records or nonprofit information, contact the Attorney General's Office or the Corporation Division, Capitol Complex in Columbia.
·         For available criminal records, contact the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, Criminal Records Section.
In South Carolina, public records remain open and available upon request. Some agencies charge an administrative fee to make copies of or to access information. Not all information is available readily and some may take several days to produce, depending on location and type.
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