Expunging or Sealing Adult Criminal Records in West Virginia

In West Virginia, your criminal record may be expunged -- that is, erased or sealed -- under certain circumstances.

By , Master of Science in Library and Information Science, Long Island University
Updated June 01, 2023

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.

What Is 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.

Who is Eligible for Expungement in West Virginia?

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.

Expungement in West Virginia If You Were Not Convicted of a Crime

Your criminal record may be eligible for expungement in West Virginia if:

  • all charges against you were dismissed, or
  • you were found not guilty of the charges against you.

Your criminal record won't qualify for expungement if any of the following are true:

  • the charge you want to expunge is for driving under the influence, and the expungement will keep the charge from appearing on your commercial driving record
  • 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 you were acquitted or the case was dismissed.

Expungement in West Virginia if You Were Convicted of a Crime

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.

First-Time Drug Possession Offenses

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.

Misdemeanors and Nonviolent Felonies

In general, your criminal record may qualify for expungement after the following waiting periods:

  • One misdemeanor. To be eligible for expungement, you must wait one year from the date of your conviction, completion of your sentence, or release from supervision, whichever is latest.
  • Multiple misdemeanors. For your record to qualify for expungement, you must wait two years from the date of your last conviction, completion of your sentence, or release from supervision, whichever is latest.
  • Nonviolent felonies. In order to apply for expungement, you must wait five years from the date of your last conviction, completion of your sentence, or release from supervision, whichever is latest.

The waiting period is reduced to 90 days for one misdemeanor, one year for multiple misdemeanors, or three years for nonviolent felonies, if:

  • you have a medically documented history of substance abuse and successfully complete a substance abuse treatment program approved by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources
  • you graduate from a West Virginia Department of Education approved Job Readiness Adult Training course, or
  • both.

There are, however, many convictions that don't qualify for expungement, including:

  • crimes involving violence
  • sexual offenses
  • offenses involving the use or exhibition of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • domestic violence offenses
  • stalking or harassment
  • abuse or neglect of an incapacitated adult
  • animal cruelty offenses
  • convictions for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and
  • convictions for traffic offenses committed while you had a commercial driver's license or were operating a commercial motor vehicle.

See W. Va. Code §§ 61-11-26 and 61-11-26b for the full list of crimes that are ineligible for expungement.

Expungement in West Virginia if 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 won't be eligible if the offense was first-degree murder, kidnapping, treason, or a felony sex offense.

How to File for Expungement in West Virginia

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.

Getting Legal Help

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).)

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