This is general information about expungements, including the new law. Expungements are complicated. For information about your particular case, you should try to talk to a lawyer.
If you meet certain criteria, the State of West Virginia allows dismissed charges and specific convictions to be removed from your record after a certain amount of time has passed and a judge approves it. The law on expungement is complicated. Each situation is different. And there are different expungement laws, and the requirements for each law are different. Criminal Charges : You may be eligible for expungement of criminal charges if:. Also, if you were found not guilty because of mental illness or addiction, there are certain offenses under West Virginia's Sex Offender Registration Act that cannot be expunged.
You must wait 60 days from the date of dismissal to file. Criminal Convictions : You may be eligible for expungement of your conviction if it involves a misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors, a nonviolent felony, or a series of connected nonviolent felonies. Certain types of convictions are not eligible for expungement. And you are not eligible for expungement if you have pending charges. Even if you may be eligible, there are other things to consider before filing for expungement. You should carefully read all of the information listed here to determine whether you are eligible.
Expunging or Sealing an Adult Criminal Record
You should try to talk to a lawyer. Only certain state convictions are eligible for expungement. Federal convictions are not eligible. Felony expungements are limited to non-violent felonies that meet the following criteria: Offense does not involve the intentional infliction of serious bodily injury; Offense does not involve violence or potential violence to another person or the public; An offense the facts and circumstances of which the circuit court finds to be consistent with the purposes of the expungement statute; and Is not otherwise excluded.
If you have questions about whether your offense qualifies, you should talk to a lawyer. Records cannot be expunged, even with a pardon, for first degree murder, treason, kidnapping, or sexual offenses. Criminal Convictions: If you have been convicted of a crime, the time period you must wait depends begins when you have finished serving a jail or prison sentence, and any term of probation or parole, whichever is later in time.
The approved programs can be found on the West Virginia Supreme Court website. If you have a medically documented history of substance abuse, you can shorten your wait time by completing an approved substance abuse treatment or a recovery and counseling program. You can also shorten your waiting period if you complete an approved Job Readiness Adult Training Program. Criminal Charges : As mentioned earlier, you are eligible if you do not have a previous felony conviction; and. Criminal Convictions : There are two key steps you need to take to figure out whether you are eligible for expungement of your convictions:.
In West Virginia, most of this information is not available online. You will need to know:. This is a list of all court locations in West Virginia. You will then still need to get the paperwork from the Magistrate Court or the Circuit Court. Depending on your case, court orders or papers that you could ask for include: Indictment, Information, Complaint, Plea Agreement, Sentencing Order, or Disposition.
If there were orders for restitution, or protection or restraining orders prohibiting you from contacting a victim in your case, you will need a copy of those orders.
Clean Your Record
You also need to find out if you have paid fines and restitution related to your conviction. The Circuit Clerk or Magistrate Clerk should be able to assist you with that information too. You must know when you:. This is a list of Parole Offices. Once you have all this information, then you can determine whether you may be eligible for expungement. You will need to review each charge or conviction separately. You will need to consider whether it is the kind of offense that is eligible.
You will also need to consider whether you have waited long enough. Again, this is complicated.
Five Things You Didn’t Know About Clearing Your Record | The Marshall Project
If you can, you should try to talk to a lawyer. Criminal Charges : No. The person filing for expungement has the burden of proving that the expungement should be approved. The Court considers whether the interests of justice are served by the granting of the expungement. Criminal Convictions : No.
In expungement cases, there is a high burden. You must be able to show the judge that:. The prosecutor, law enforcement, sentencing court, victim, or others may object to the request to expunge criminal records.
It is up to the judge to decide whether to allow a record to be expunged. It is also available at your local Circuit Clerk's office.
You need to serve a copy of your motion on the Prosecuting Attorney for that county. You must be careful about taking other steps that the court asks of you. Failure to do so may result in your case being dismissed. One form is for misdemeanors. The other form is for felonies. You should carefully read the instructions. After you file, these documents must be served on many people. People who were arrested and never charged, or charged but found not guilty, still have records in their file.
The volume of record-sealing cases has grown so much in Philadelphia, in fact, that the legal aid group developed computer scripts to automatically generate legal documents that get the records sealed. Pennsylvania is one of the few states where all the criminal courts and law enforcement agencies use the same computer system, making the expungement process simpler. But while the computer program has made life easier for legal aid attorneys, the increased volume of requests added to the caseloads of judges and prosecutors, who had to review and approve them.
What steps do I take?
So legal aid activists started pushing the Clean Slate bill, providing for many of the cases to be sealed automatically. The Clean Slate legislation passed almost unanimously this year in both chambers of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Scott Wagner, a Republican, was one of the main sponsors.
The effort has attracted nationwide attention. Lawmakers in California and North Carolina have considered bills as well. Enacting Clean Slate legislation will take more work in some states, depending on how their law enforcement computer systems are set up.
But while states are improving their databases, lawmakers can still lower the barriers to sealing old criminal records the old-fashioned way. The real key to success, though, is building a bipartisan coalition like the one in Pennsylvania, says Jenna Moll, the deputy director of the Justice Action Network. Three American cities have now banned the use of facial recognition technology in local government amid concerns it's inaccurate and biased.
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