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What Are West Virginia Criminal Records?

West Virginia criminal records are documents and information maintained by law enforcement and criminal justice departments and agencies at various levels of government on a person, as a narrative of the criminal activities of that person and their journey through the criminal justice system.

Sometimes referred to as police records or rap sheets, criminal records typically contain information on a person’s arrests, details of all convictions (past and present), sentences, prison time (satisfied or being served) offense(s) committed, physical descriptions, age, date of birth, information on probation, parole, and so on. The type of information and details provided as criminal records may depend on the type of records presented, For instance, a general criminal record may contain lesser details than an in-depth one which will most likely contain more information. It may also vary from one jurisdiction to the other.

Criminal records in the state of West Virginia generally include the following subjects:

  • Names and aliases of the offender
  • Date of birth
  • Offense(s) committed or charged with
  • Fingerprints
  • Physical descriptions such as height, hair color, eye color, weight, and so on.
  • Warrants (past and currently issued against the offender)
  • Past and current charges

Are Criminal Records Public In West Virginia?

Yes, per West Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act, anyone can access public criminal records in the state. Each criminal justice agency at the state and county level has its own standard and system of criminal records collation, maintenance, and accessibility. However, the West Virginia State Police is the central repository for criminal records in the state. The public may obtain this type of police record in person, via mail requests, or online.

Criminal records, considered public in the United States, are made available through some third-party aggregate sites. Searching with third-party websites is often easier as the information is not limited to geographic record availability. Information found on third-party websites can serve as a jumping off point for parties searching for a specific record or multiple records. Typically, requesters must provide the following information to gain access to these records:

  • The record subject’s name, unless the subject is a juvenile.
  • The record subjects’ last known location, including cities, counties, and states.

Third-party websites offer these search services, but they are not government sponsored. Availability of records may vary.

How To Obtain West Virginia Criminal Records

The West Virginia State Police is responsible for storing criminal records in the state and allows the public to perform a criminal record search online or in-person. Interested persons can look for West Virginia criminal records at their local county sheriff’s offices or by visiting courthouses for on-demand court records. Other options for obtaining criminal records include the West Virginia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. These state facilities will provide criminal records at minimal prices.

Anyone looking to get a free public criminal record check in West Virginia state may look through third-party sites. However, the accuracy and completeness of such free criminal records are not guaranteed. Thus, it is advisable to request a fee waiver from the record custodian or pay the search fee.  

What Are West Virginia Arrest Records?

Arrest records are documents and information maintained by law enforcement agencies about specific persons who have been apprehended and or taken into their custody. Information relating to the offense(s) for which the person has been arrested or charged would usually appear on an arrest record. Other information that may appear on arrest records include

  • Name and aliases of the arrested persons
  • Physical descriptions such as weight, height, hair color, tattoos, or other identifying markings
  • Date of birth 
  • Age
  • Fingerprints
  • Photograph
  • Race
  • Criminal charges
  • Time and date of arrest
  • The location where the person is confined (if confined)
  • Status of the case

Although an arrest record may form part of a criminal record, it is not in itself a criminal record. An arrest record without a criminal conviction remains merely as an arrest record.

In West Virginia, police records, also known as police reports, differ from arrest records. However, the terms are often used interchangeably. Police reports serve as documents that track law enforcement actions, while arrest records include only information pertaining to arrests and are categorized by record subject.

Are West Virginia Arrest Records Public?

Yes, West Virginia arrest records are open to public scrutiny, per the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Each local police station or sheriff’s office generates and maintains records of arrest. However, The WV Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority is the central storehouse for public arrest records. The WV Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority provides an online platform that interested persons may use to search for free arrest records. Alternatively, interested persons may visit their local police station or sheriff’s office to perform an arrest search.

What Are West Virginia Arrest Warrants?

West Virginia arrest warrant is an official authority obtained by law enforcement officers from a court of law to take a person or persons named (suspect) into custody. The West Virginia State Police maintains a Most Wanted page where interested public members may perform an active warrant search.  Arrest warrants are granted by a judge or magistrate after the law enforcement officers have shown probable cause or some evidence that the suspect so named and described has allegedly committed a crime.

Typically, the judge would consider the evidence presented, usually in the form of a sworn affidavit (complaint) before issuing an active warrant. Once granted an arrest warrant may be executed by the law enforcement officers at any time or anywhere unless it has been granted with conditions restricting when and how the suspect may be apprehended or taken into custody. The arrest warrant may also stipulate terms for bails.

Police can make arrests without warrants in West Virginia if they have committed a crime or acted in breach of the West Virginia Criminal Code in the presence of a law enforcement officer. More than one arrest warrant may be issued for the same complaint.

What Are West Virginia Jail And Inmate Records?

Jail and inmate records are official documents, data, and information maintained by correctional institutions and facilities at various levels in West Virginia, about persons in their custody. The West Virginia Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has administrative authority over all correctional institutions and facilities in the state and provides public access to information about inmates that are not specifically excluded in compliance with the law or other regulations. The WV DCR offers an online platform where interested persons can perform an inmate search. Inmate and jail records contain information about persons who were held in the past or are currently being held in County jails all around West Virginia as well as State prisons and criminal rehabilitation centers under the control of the WV DCR.

Inmates are persons whose freedom of movement and other related freedom is taken away as a result of a court sentence for a crime they were charged with and convicted for or are awaiting trial for a crime they are charged to have allegedly committed. Information on Persons under supervision, parole, or probation is also accessible as inmate records.

The WV DCR permits interested persons to conduct an offender search on their website and view a list of absconders and escapees, view information on persons who were admitted into custody on the particular day of search (Daily incarceration).

What's in a West Virginia Inmate Record?

Inmate records generally contain information on an inmate that may be accessible to the public. Some of these may include

  • Names and aliases of the offender
  •  Date of incarceration
  • Age and date of birth 
  • Expected release dates
  • Correctional facility in which they are housed
  • Charges and laws violated
  • Photo

What Is The West Virginia Sex Offender Registry?

The West Virginia sex offender listing is a public database of information and the location of persons who have been convicted of certain sex crimes in the past. Backed by Megan’s Law, The purpose of sex offender listings is to provide the public with detailed descriptions and identifying information on persons who had committed sexually motivated crimes in the past and may have the propensity to do so again.

Thus, the West Virginia Offender Registry is intended by the West Virginia Code to serve as a tool for making decisions to protect children and other individuals from being vulnerable to registered sex offenders, rather than a tool for violence, retaliation, or any type of disruption. Persons required to register as sex offenders must provide certain information that would otherwise be withheld from the public including but not limited to:

  • Full name, nicknames, and other names by which the registrant is known
  • Internet account names and details
  • The address they reside or intend to reside
  • Full face photograph
  • Information on employers, potential employers, addresses of their place of work or prospective place of work
  • Social security number
  • Fingerprint and palm print
  • Description of the sexual offense for which they were charged and convicted or found not guilty for reasons of mental instability
  • Schools and training facility the registrant attends r intends to attend
  • Description of vehicles owned or driven by the registrant 
  • Information on the phone and electronic pagers used by the registrant

The sex offender registry accessible through the West Virginia Police website allows interested persons to search by providing the last name of the registrant or their location such as county city and street.

What Is A DUI in West Virginia?

In West Virginia, driving under the influence of alcohol or other Class 1 drugs ranks among the most serious traffic violations. West Virginia police stop motor vehicles whose drivers appear impaired and put them through field sobriety tests. If the driver has a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% or more, the police will arrest them for drunk driving.

The penalties for drunk driving in West Virginia vary. First-time offenders whose BAC is above 0.15% may get up to six months in prison, while those below may $100 - $1000 in fines or lose their license for six months. Repeat offenders may face 6 months - 5 years of jail time, $1000 - $5000 in fines, and lose their license for more than 10 years.

What Are Misdemeanors In West Virginia?

A misdemeanor is generally described as a less severe offense compared to a felony but it is also very serious and can have grave consequences including a sentence of up to 1-year imprisonment.

Under West Virginia Code, an offense punishable by confinement in state prison is a felony while all other offenses are misdemeanors. The West Virginia Code also states the Penalties for each specific misdemeanor rather than a group or category of offenses. For instance, a person found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol and is charged with a misdemeanor, if convicted shall be sentenced to a jail term of 6 months and a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $500.

A person who has committed a misdemeanor may be arrested and may appear before an appropriate West Virginia court where the case against them will be heard, tried, and determined. Misdemeanors may include

  • Shoplifting (depending on the value of items shoplifted)
  • Assault (depending on the severity)
  • Disturbing the peace
  • Drug abuse
  • Prostitution
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Criminal trespass
  • Harassment of innocent citizens

What Are Felonies In West Virginia?

A felony offense is punishable by incarceration in a penitentiary or West Virginia State Correctional facilities. Felonies are the most serious of the two categories of offenses in West Virginia and like misdemeanors under the West Virginia Code, the law already stipulates the penalties for each specific felony offense.

Offenses classified as felonies include:

  • Shoplifting third offense regardless of the value)
  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • treason

What Are West Virginia Parole Records?

Parole records are official documents that provide information on the conditional early release of inmates found to be eligible for parole. A person on parole is described as a parolee and continues to serve their sentence outside an institution of physical confinement but under the strict supervision of the WV DCR, The West Virginia Parole Board is the body with the powers to release eligible adult inmates into the community under specific conditions and facilitate the reintegration of offenders (possibly reformed) into the community and provide them with the rules and regulations they must abide with all through their probation. Conditions of probation may include

  • Remaining with a particular location or community while on probation
  • Report on schedule to an assigned probation officer or center
  • Restriction from visits to certain places such as bars or consumption 
  • Maintain a noncriminal behavior or association
  • Pay the monthly supervision fee of $40 unless the Board finds that the Parolee is not financially able to pay.

The Board may impose any conditions or rules it deems fit to ensure the protection of the society and the parolee under their jurisdiction. If a Parolee is found to have committed any acts of parole violation, per rules set out by the Board, they may be arrested and or have their parole revoked and consequently, incarcerated.

What Are Probation Records In West Virginia?

Probation records are official documents with information on persons who have been sentenced by a judge to serve a term for a criminal conviction outside of physical confinement but under the strict supervision of a provision officer within the community. Not all offenders are eligible for probation. Low-risk or first-time offenders are more likely to receive probation sentences instead of incarceration.

Although an offender under probation is not confined in a prison or jail, they are required to abide by all the terms set by the probation office as conditions of their probation. A probation violation may result in the termination of their general physical freedom or probation.

Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case. Probation typically falls into three categories: minimally supervised, supervised, and intensive. Intensive probation is a form of very strict probation that emphasizes punishment and control of the offender within the community.

What Is A Conviction Record In West Virginia?

A conviction record is an official document providing information that a person was found guilty, pleaded guilty, or pleaded nolo contendere against criminal charges in a civilian or military court. The criminal charges can be classified as a felony, misdemeanor, or other offense.

A conviction also includes when a person has been judged delinquent, has been less than honorably discharged, or has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned, or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment that was deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed, or otherwise rendered inoperative.

What Are Juvenile Criminal Records In West Virginia?

A juvenile criminal record is an official record of information on persons determined to be delinquents by a West Virginia juvenile court (adjudicated delinquents) and or journey through the West Virginia Juvenile Justice system by a person below the legal adult age of 18. A young person may be adjudicated as a delinquent if they have carried out an act that would amount to a breach of any West Virginia law and would have been considered an offense if it had been committed by a person 18 years of age and older. Instead of going to prison, they are typically remanded to a juvenile detention center.

Juvenile records are generally confidential but may be disclosed to certain school officials under specific conditions if the juvenile has been convicted of certain crimes such as violence towards another person, possession of a dangerous, deadly weapon or controlled substance, and so on. Juvenile records may also be subject to public inspection under special circumstances laid out by the WV Code.

In West Virginia, Juvenile records are generally sealed 1 year after the juvenile’s 18th birthday or 1 year after the personal or juvenile jurisdiction is terminated (the case ends) whichever is unless the record of proceedings are transferred to criminal jurisdiction, in which case the records are open to the public. Sealing juvenile records is done to completely wipe the slate clean for the delinquent as though they never committed the offense. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.

West Virginia State Archives

State Archives

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Criminal Record

Criminal Record

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