In West Virginia, your criminal record may be expunged under the circumstances described below. In most cases, when your record is expunged, you can say that you were never arrested or convicted of a crime. Many misdemeanors and some felonies are eligible for expungement.
In general, an expunged criminal record is essentially erased or sealed. When this happens, the record will be hidden from public view. In most cases, an expungement means you won't have to disclose that you were arrested or convicted of a crime.
Expungement is available in many types of cases when the person wasn't convicted of a crime, as well as in some circumstances when they were convicted. Certain types of offenses can't be expunged, and other factors might make someone ineligible for expungement.
Your criminal record may be eligible for expungement in West Virginia if:
Your criminal record won't qualify for expungement if any of the following are true:
Before applying for expungement, you must wait 60 days from the date you were acquitted or the case was dismissed.
Convictions for many first-time drug possession offenses, misdemeanors, and nonviolent felonies may be expunged. With some exceptions, a sealed record of conviction can't be disclosed to anyone without a court order.
Your criminal record for a first-time drug possession offense may qualify for expungement if you've successfully completed a deferred sentence and your case was discharged or dismissed. You can apply six months after your probation ends, and you must have no serious or repeated probation violations.
In general, your criminal record may qualify for expungement after the following waiting periods:
The waiting period is reduced to 90 days for one misdemeanor, one year for multiple misdemeanors, or three years for nonviolent felonies, if:
There are, however, many convictions that don't qualify for expungement, including:
See W. Va. Code §§ 61-11-26 and 61-11-26b for the full list of crimes that are ineligible for expungement.
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 won't be eligible if the offense was first-degree murder, kidnapping, treason, or a felony sex offense.
You must file your petition for expungement in the circuit court in the county where your case was handled. You can find expungement forms and instructions on the West Virginia Judiciary website.
Cleaning up a criminal history can be complicated, and the law can change at any time. 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 defense attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.
(W. Va. Code §§ 5-1-16a, 60A-4-407, 61-11-25, 61-11-26, 61-11-26a, 61-11-26b § (2023).)