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. (W. Va. Code § 61-11-26 (2020).)
Your criminal record may be eligible for expungement if:
Your criminal record will not qualify for expungement if any of the following are true:
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 (2020).)
Convictions for many first-time drug possession offenses, misdemeanors, and nonviolent felonies may be expunged. With some exceptions, sealed records cannot be disclosed to anyone without a court order. Some convictions, however, are ineligible for expungement, as described below.
Your criminal record for a first-time drug possession offense 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 (2020).)
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 offenses that do not 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. (W. Va. Code §§ 61-11-26, 61-11-26a, 61-11-26b (2020).)
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 (2020).)
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 law attorney. A good lawyer can guide you each step of the way.