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.
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 (2018).)
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 (2018).)
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:
(W. Va. Code § 61-11-26 (2018).)
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 (2018).)
Nonviolent felony offenses. While felony convictions are not eligible for expungement in West Virginia, you may petition to have certain nonviolent felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors (designated as “reduced misdemeanors” on your criminal record). 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 ten years from the date of the completion of your sentence or period of supervision or probation, whichever is later.
The following offenses do not qualify for reduction:
(W. Va. Code §§ 61-11B-2, 61-11B-3, 61-11B-4 (2018).)
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 and a Petition for Criminal Offense Reduction 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.