West Virginia Court Records
Where to Find West Virginia Civil Court Records
West Virginia civil court records refer to the official reports and documents collected during civil court proceedings in the State courts. Civil cases in West Virginia usually involve disputes between individuals or institutions and information that is generated includes dockets, court transcripts, witnesses' statements, and evidence. Records of civil cases are collated and disseminated at the courthouse where the case filing occurred. The clerk of court acts as the custodian of records and the general public may access nonconfidential records at the clerk's office. Alternatively, civil court records are also available to the public on third-party websites such as WestVirginia.CourtRecords.Org.
Are West Virginia Civil Court Records Public?
The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act guarantees that the public has access to records maintained by government entities, including civil court records. The public has access to inspect and copy records of civil cases from the custodian of such records. Due to the confidential nature of some records, some of these records may be exempt from public access. Such exempted records can include information on minors, financial accounts of involved parties, and social security numbers.
Types of Cases in West Virginia Civil Courts
In West Virginia,civil cases proceedings take place in the magistrate courts, family courts, circuit courts, or the Supreme Courts of Appeal. Examples of cases heard in West Virginia civil courts include:
- Breach of contract
- Child custody
- Property disputes
- Landlord-tenant disagreements
- Personal injury claims
- Small Claims
- Tort Cases
- Contract and Property Disputes
- Juvenile Records
What is the Difference Between Criminal Cases and Civil Cases in West Virginia?
Criminal cases in West Virginia occur when a defendant has been charged with a criminal offense and has a case against the state. West Virginia civil cases are between individuals or organizations. Civil court cases are usually heard in a civil court in accordance with the court's civil procedures, while criminal cases are prosecuted under the criminal code. Unlike criminal cases, the consequences do not involve incarceration. While state prosecutors handle criminal cases, civil cases occur when aggrieved individuals file a complaint at a West Virginia court.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records in West Virginia?
Interested persons may find civil court records in West Virginia at the office of the clerk of the courthouse where the case was filed. The clerk of court manages and disseminates information generated during civil case proceedings. The general public has access to records by visiting the courthouse to obtain them, sending written requests via U.S mail, or court-provided electronic means. To obtain civil court records in-person, interested persons will need to identify and visit the courthouse where the case proceedings occurred. The clerk stands as the custodian and attends to requests for civil court records. Requestors may be prompted to provide relevant information about the case to facilitate the retrieval of records. Requestors should note that charges may apply for retrieval and copying of records. Interested persons may find the West Virginia courthouses' locations and clerk's contact details on the county courts directory. To find the location of a particular court on the directory, persons should pick the county location. Requestors that want to obtain records via U.S mail may prepare written requests conveying necessary information about the case and their contact details. Requests should be sent to the clerk's office location.
How Do I Find Civil Court Records Online?
West Virginia civil court records are majorly found at the custodian's office. However, third-party commercial websites also provide online search tools for the general public to access civil court information. Interested persons may also access information on civil case dockets on the state's Public Service Commission's web docket site.
What Is Included in a West Virginia Civil Court Record?
Typically, information on civil cases depends on the case type. However, some general information seen on civil court records include:
- Description of the case
- Personal information of the defendants and plaintiffs
- Information of the attorneys of the parties involved
- Case status
- Evidence presented in the case
- Statements made by the witnesses
- Court transcripts including motions and petitions
- Court's verdict
- Agreements and settlements reached by the parties involved
How to Access West Virginia Civil Court Records For Free
The general public can access West Virginia civil court records for free electronically. Some county courthouses provide electronic public access terminals that interested persons may search for court information. Members of the public may search records by the details of the cases.
How to Seal Civil Court Records in West Virginia
Parties involved in civil cases may have the records of the court proceeding sealed on the court's order. The state's Sealing of Records Statute allows eligible persons to seal court records in accordance with the law. The sealing of records restricts information from public access. Interested parties in a civil case can file a written request with the court's clerk to seal desired records. Upon the filing of the request, the court will notify all the parties involved and a court hearing will ensue. The court will pass an order to seal records if the request meets the requirements. Generally, the court may seal records on the following basis:
- To protect the privacy of persons involved
- The involvement of minors in the case
- If certain information could lead to potential harm
How to Access Sealed Civil Court Records in West Virginia
To access sealed civil court records, requestors may file a motion at the court where the case hearing occurred. Typically, the court grants a request access to sealed records if the requestor has a legitimate reason and motive of use. The court would weigh the requestor's request for the sealed record with the initial reason(s) the court record was sealed. If the court grants a request to access sealed civil court records, there might be some terms and conditions governing how the requestors may use the desired information. Sealed records are also available to certain persons and government agencies at all times, including law enforcement agencies, attorneys of the parties involved, and an employee of the Department of Health and Human Resources.