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Coroner's Office

Coroner's Office

Contact Information, Office Hours
Functions, Office Responsibilities
FAQ's, Common Terms, History, Interesting Facts
Current Elected Official Biographical Information


Investigation of Deaths
Determination of Manner of Death
Family Notification of Unexpected Deaths

The Coroner's Office conducts independent investigations of deaths in Charleston County, serving as a representative of the decedents and survivors. The investigation's purpose is to determine the manner of death and ensure that the circumstances surrounding it are thoroughly understood.

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This Office Does

dot Perform independent investigations into traumatic deaths, deaths that occur outside of hospitals and deaths that occur suddenly or unexpectedly
dot  Notify families when unexpected deaths occur, such as in traffic fatalities or homicides
dot  Make positive identification of individuals who have died
dot  Create reports that relate to deaths investigated by the Office
dot  Issue burial transit permits for individuals who have died outside of a hospital
dot  Provide autopsy and Coroner's reports to agencies and next of kin
dot  Make the final determination as to the manner of death
dot  Release personal effects to the next of kin
dot  Act as the central depository for all records relative to a death, including the Medical Examiner's Report, police investigative reports and any other investigative agencies' reports
dot  Maintain the County Coroner's Book of Inquisitions
dot  Conduct inquests
dot  Issue cremation permits
dot  Participate as a member of the Disaster Preparedness Team

This Office Does Not

dot  Perform autopsies
dot  Issue Death Certificates
dot  Provide burial services
dot  Determine property disposition (See Probate Court)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the state bury people?
A: Currently the state provides no monies for burial except through the Victim-Witness Assistance Program, operated by the Solicitor's Office.
Q: What are the minimum standards required for one to be elected Coroner?

To qualify as a candidate for Coroner, an individual must 1) be a citizen of the United States; 2) for at least one year, be a resident of the county in which he or she seeks the office; 3) be a registered voter; 4) attain the age of 21 before the date of qualifying for office; 5) have earned a high school or equivalent diploma; and 6) not have been convicted of a felony offense or any offense involving immoral behavior.

In addition to the above requirements a Coroner in this state shall have at least one of the following qualifications, the person shall: a) have at least three years of experience in death investigation with a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner agency; b) have a two-year associate degree and two years experience in death investigation with a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner agency; c) have a four-year baccalaureate degree and one year of experience in death investigation with a law enforcement agency, coroner or medical examiner agency; d) be a law enforcement officer, as defined by Section 23-23-10(E)(1), who is certified by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council with a minimum of two years of experience; e) have completed a recognized forensic science degree or certification program or be enrolled in a recognized forensic science degree or certification program to be completed within one year of being elected to the office of coroner; f) be a medical doctor; or g) have a bachelor of science degree in nursing.

Q: How does the Coroner's Office know when to respond?
A: A law enforcement agency, medical facility or hospice agency notifies the Coroner’s Office of any death which meets certain criteria.

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Common Terms

Autopsy-- The dissection and examination of bone, tissue, organs and foreign objects for the purpose of determining the cause and manner of death.

Book of Inquisitions-- A record of all inquests within the county, together with evidence taken before juries and all proceedings conducted before or after the Coroner's findings.

Coroner's Inquest --An official judicial inquiry before a Coroner and Coroner's Jury for the purpose of determining the manner of death.

Victim-Witness Assistance Program-- A program that provides assistance to victims and witnesses by: making available information concerning their cases; supporting their rights to protection from intimidation; making referrals to medical, social, counseling and compensation services; assisting in preparation for court; and supporting families or survivors of victims.

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The King of England appointed the first Coroner of South Carolina by relocating him from England to Charleston. Until 1706, the only Coroner in the colony lived in Charleston. Beginning in 1785, Justices of the County Court selected the Coroners who were commissioned by the Governor for two-year terms. Since 1868, and in accordance with the S.C. Constitution, each of the state's 46 counties have elected a Coroner to four-year terms.

Interesting Facts

dot  This Office offers prevention programs for schools. Topics include drinking and driving, weapons awareness and alcohol and drug abuse.
dot  This Office sponsors programs in the medical community promoting prevention of infants' and children's deaths.
dot  The Coroner’s Books of Inquisitions contains records dating back to the early 1900’s.
dot Rae Wooten was named 2012 Coroner of the Year by the South Carolina Coroner’s Association.

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Contact Information

Charleston County Perimeter Center
4050 Bridge View Drive, Suite 500
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 746-4030
(843) 746-4033 (Fax)

Office Hours

8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

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