In West Virginia, your criminal record may be expunged -- that is, erased or sealed -- under the circumstances described below. If your record is expunged, it will no longer be visible to the general public, including potential employers. In most cases, you may say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime.
If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime
Your criminal record may be eligible for expungement if:
- all charges against you were dismissed, or
- you were found not guilty of the charges against you.
Your criminal record will not qualify for expungement if any of the following are true:
- the charge you wish to expunge is for driving under the influence
- there is a felony conviction on your record
- the charges against you were dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to another offense, or
- you were found not guilty because of mental illness, mental handicap, or addiction.
Before applying for expungement, you must wait 60 days from the date of the order of acquittal or dismissal.
(W. Va. Code § 61-11-25.)
If You Were Convicted of a Crime
First-time drug offenses. Your criminal record may qualify for expungement if you have successfully completed a deferred sentence and your case was discharged or dismissed. You may apply six months after your term of probation ends, and you must have no serious or repeated probation violations. (W. Va. Code § 60A-4-407.)
Misdemeanor offenses committed between the ages of 18 and 26. Your criminal record may qualify for expungement. To be eligible, you must have no prior or subsequent convictions other than minor traffic violations, and there must not be any criminal charges pending against you. Before applying, you must wait one year from the date of your conviction, completion of your sentence, or termination of probation, whichever is latest.
The following offenses do not qualify for expungement:
- offenses involving the infliction of serious physical injury
- sexual offenses, if the victim was 12 years of age or younger
- offenses involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
- certain offenses in which the victim was your spouse, the other parent of your child, or someone with whom you lived prior to the offense
- domestic violence offenses
- convictions for driving under the influence
- convictions for driving without a license, or
- certain animal cruelty offenses.
(W. Va. Code § 61-11-26.)
Offenses for which you were pardoned. If you receive a full and unconditional executive pardon, your criminal record may be eligible for expungement. Before applying, you must wait one year from the date of your pardon and five years from the date you completed your sentence. Your record will not be eligible if the offense was first-degree murder, kidnapping, treason, or a felony sex offense. (W. Va. Code § 5-1-16a.)
How to File
You must file your petition for expungement in the circuit court in the county where your case was handled. You can find a Petition for Expungement of Criminal Records on the West Virginia Judiciary website
Getting Legal Help
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated. If you are not sure whether your record qualifies for expungement in West Virginia -- or for advice about your personal situation -- you should contact a qualified criminal law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.