West Virginia Court Records
Are Criminal Records Public In West Virginia?
According to §15–2–24 of the West Virginia Code, West Virginia criminal records are not public records and are, therefore, unavailable to the general public. Notwithstanding, the law authorizes a select few to access the confidential West Virginia criminal records for specific purposes. These include:
- The subject of the criminal record upon proper identification
- Authorized Law enforcement and governmental agencies for the sole purpose of administering official duties and criminal laws
- The identification bureau of the United States government and to other states to aid law enforcement
- Any non-law enforcement agency, or individual with the approval of the superintendent and the written authorization of the subject of the sought criminal record
The agency charged with the responsibility of keeping and maintaining West Virginia criminal records is the Criminal Identification Bureau of the West Virginia State Police Department. This is the agency that provides copies of West Virginia criminal records to interested eligible persons.
What Is Included In A Criminal Record In West Virginia?
West Virginia criminal records are official reports documenting the criminal activities of a person within the jurisdiction of the state. These records typically contain all felony and misdemeanor violations of an individual in West Virginia, as well as the arrests, charges, and conviction information. West Virginia criminal records usually include the following:
- Biographical data of the subject, such as the full name, date of birth, sex, and race
- A mug shot
- A full set of fingerprints
- The subject’s physical description, including height, weight, hair, and eye color
- Criminal charges and offenses
- Information on any previous and outstanding warrants
- Details of the convictions, arrest history and dispositions
How To Look Up My Criminal Records In West Virginia?
Generally, local law enforcement agencies are primarily responsible for generating and managing crime-related information, reports, and records. However, the central repository for West Virginia criminal records is the Criminal Identification Bureau of the West Virginia State Police Department. Despite this, the Department does not provide interested persons with copies of West Virginia criminal records. Instead, the West Virginia State Police Department, on its official website, directs users to a third-party vendor.
Therefore, to obtain a West Virginia criminal record, visit any of State Agency locations during the specified business hours. Take along a valid identification card. Interested persons may choose to conduct a name-based criminal history background check or a fingerprint-based one. The fingerprint-based requests grant requesters access to a complete criminal profile, while name-based background checks may be incomplete or misidentifying. To carry out a fingerprint-based check, book an appointment to get fingerprinted at any of the locations. The cost of using this service is $32.50.
Employees in programs operated by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources may also get a West Virginia criminal record from the Crime Identification Bureau. To do that, complete a Statement of Criminal Record form and submit to:
WV DHHR /BCF Background Unit
350 Capitol St. Room 730
Charleston, WV 25301
Note, if the request is for both state and federal criminal history information, there’s a fee of $37.25 per applicant. Make the payment by check or money order to the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Children and Families.
How Can I Get My Criminal Records For Free In West Virginia?
Generally, a reputable criminal check costs $20-$30 to provide a copy of a West Virginia criminal record. There is no provision for obtaining West Virginia criminal records for free.
How To Search Criminal Records Online In West Virginia?
The Criminal Identification Bureau of the West Virginia State Police Department, which is the central repository for West Virginia criminal records, does not have an online database where interested persons can get criminal records. Instead, the official site directs individuals to an authorized third-party website.
The third-party website does not have a search engine where interested persons can look for West Virginia criminal records and get instant results. However, the website allows users to apply for criminal history background checks and book appointments online. To apply for a West Virginia criminal record, visit the website and schedule an appointment. After doing that, provide the information on the subject, including the first and last name, address, and phone number.
Users of this service may choose to pay immediately after booking the appointment, or in-person when going for the scheduled appointment. The cost of the service is $32.50. Online payment may be by check or credit card.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple record(s). To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Get Criminal Records Expunged In West Virginia?
According to the West Virginia Code §61–11–26, it is possible to expunge misdemeanor and felony convictions. Concerned persons may be eligible to petition the circuit court where the case was heard, and the conviction(s) occurred if any of the following requirements are met:
- One year has passed after the conviction and completion of any sentence or supervision for a misdemeanor offense.
- For multiple misdemeanor convictions, two years have passed after the conviction and completion of any sentence or supervision.
- Five years have passed since the completion of any sentence for a felony conviction.
A petitioner with a medically documented record of substance abuse may be eligible for early expungement of misdemeanor convictions if one of both of the following applies:
- The person has successful compliance with the ensuing treatment and counseling program, which was approved by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources.
- The person graduates from any West Virginia Department of Education approved adult training course for job readiness
The following misdemeanor and felony offenses are not eligible for expungement:
- Use of deadly instrument or deadly weapon
- Violations against the Uniform Commercial Driver’s License Act
- Any charge of violence against a person
- Crimes involving the use of explosives
- Sexually related crimes against a minor
- Intentional infliction of physical injury to a law enforcement officer or a minor
- Driving under the influence of a controlled substance or alcohol
- Driving with a revoked or suspended license plate
- Assault or battery against a spouse, cohabitor, or anyone who had a child for the accused person
- Sexually motivated offenses
- Second and third-degree sexual abuse
- Stalking and harassment
- Neglect or abuse of incapacitated adults
- Domestic violence
- Cruelty to animals
It is also noteworthy that:
- A person is not eligible to have a criminal record expunged if there are pending charges against the person
- Only a single felony charge or multiple felony charges from the same case is eligible for expungement
To apply for expungement of criminal records, obtain the following from the Circuit Court Clerk:
- Petition forms for Misdemeanor Convictions or Felony Convictions, as the case may be
- Certificate of Service
When completing the petition form, provide the following information:
- The current name of the petitioner, as well as other previous legal names or aliases
- The current address of the petitioner and former addresses since the date of the relevant offense
- The petitioner’s Social Security number and date of birth
- The petitioner’s date of arrest
- The court of jurisdiction, as well as criminal complaints, summons, indictment, or case number
- The statute(s) and offense(s) that the petitioner was charged with and convicted of
- The victim(s) names or if there was no identifiable victim, a statement asserting such
- A copy of a no-contact order (if any) restricting the petitioner from contacting the victims
- The grounds on which the petitioner is seeking expungement
- The disposition of the case and the sentenced passed, if any
- The personal rehabilitation steps the petitioner has taken since the period of the offense
- Whether any court in the state or any other state has previously granted the petitioner expungement or a similar relief
- Any other necessary supporting documents
The petition must also include records of the charges, convictions, and successful completion of the sentence or supervision.
Petitioners with a medical record of substance abuse may also provide documentation for the successful compliance with an approved substance abuse recovery, treatment, and counseling program. Documentation serving as proof of graduation from a Department of Education approved Job Readiness Adult Training course can also suffice, if applicable. Any of these compliance documentations must be at least 90 days old.
The Court Clerk’s Office charges a filing fee of $200. Serve the petition and all the necessary documentation to:
- The prosecuting attorney in the county where the conviction occurred
- The Superintendent of the State Police
- Head of the local police department where the conviction occurred
- The chief law enforcement officer that participated in the arrest
- The warden or superintendent of any holding facility where the petitioner was confined
- The court where the case was heard
Consequently, any of the entities here above and the victim(s) may file a response in opposition to the petition within 30 days. Within 60 days of the service, the court has a responsibility to grant the petition, deny the petition, or set a hearing date for the case.
If the expungement is approved, the petitioner must pay a $100 processing fee to the records division of the West Virginia State Police. This fee, however, is waived for persons whose expungement of criminal records is based on a medically documented history of substance abuse.
How To Get Criminal Records Sealed In West Virginia?
In West Virginia, there is no difference between sealing a West Virginia criminal record and expunging one. The West Virginia law uses both terms interchangeably; it states that the effect of a court-ordered expungement is to seal criminal records.
Generally, the court automatically seals a juvenile record one year after the juvenile’s 18th birthday. However, juvenile records that were transferred to criminal jurisdiction are available to the public. The records may be sealed under the following conditions:
- The juvenile was acquitted
- The offense that the juvenile was found guilty of was different from the offense granted the order of transfer or waiver
- The offense upon which the order of transfer or waiver was granted was later dismissed
Qualified persons may petition to seal the juvenile criminal record with the relevant Circuit Court. If the court seals the West Virginia juvenile criminal records, the offense is extinguished as though it never occurred. The record may, however, be opened by order of the circuit court.
Who Can See My Expunged/sealed Criminal Record In West Virginia?
After a West Virginia criminal record is expunged/sealed, it becomes inaccessible to members of the general public. The offenses contained in the criminal record are deemed by law to have never occurred. However, the expunged records can still be accessed by:
- Prospective employers when the subject of the expunged record is applying for a job relating to the detection, prevention, investigation, prosecution, or incarceration of individuals for violating the law
- Persons empowered by state or federal law to run criminal history background checks on prospective employees
- Any other person upon a motion by the subject of the expunged criminal record or a petition filed by a prosecuting attorney