Were one to ask anyone who has been convicted a felony, the person with said conviction can attest to the fact that the stigma that accompanies it can make life very difficult in Ohio County. For this reason, many who have such felony charges in their pasts often wonder if any records related to them can be expunged. An expungement will typically eliminate any record related to an offense from any official database that might be queried when decisions are being made regarding employment, housing and other matters. However, not every felony charge (or every person convicted) is eligible for expungement.
Per Section 61-11-25 of the West Virginia code related to Crimes and Their Punishment, one can indeed have any records related to a felony arrest removed if he or she is subsequently found to be not guilty of said charges. The same is true if a felony case against one is dismissed (though not if that dismissal is due to having pled guilty to another defense). One cannot, however, seek to have the record of a felony arrest expunged if he or she has been previously convicted of a felony.
If one has been convicted of a felony, a limited form of expungement is possible thanks to the state's Second Chance for Employment Act. This act does not allow for felony convictions to removed from one's record, but it does permit them to be downgraded to a "reduced misdemeanor." Information shared by the West Virginia Legislature shows that only non-violent felonies are eligible for reduction. These include any offenses that did not involve:
- Violence against others (including children)
- Controlled substances
10 years must pass from the time one was convicted of a felony for it to be reduced to a misdemeanor under this Act.