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Understanding the concept of “corruption of blood”

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2019 | Felonies |

If you have a felony conviction on your public record, then you do not need to be told about the consequences you may face even after you have satisfied the demands of justice in Wheeling. An expungement can help get over the stigma associated with a criminal conviction, but often, even those clients that we here at the Scott C. Brown Law Office have helped to secure this benefit must still deal with certain social consequences. The question then becomes how far do those consequences go.

A felony conviction will often disqualify you from owning a gun or voting in local and national elections (although those benefits can be reclaimed in certain situations), yet what about the right of ownership? Some might try to tell you that if you are convicted of a felony, any property or assets that you own solely are automatically forfeited to the state. This line of thinking comes from the antiquated notion of “corruption of blood.”

Old English law stipulated that certain serious crimes (treason being the most common of them) left a metaphorical stain on a convict. This mark branded them as essentially corrupt, and thus prohibited them from enjoying the basic benefits that upstanding citizens were entitled to (the right of ownership being among them). Such a label was typically imposed on an attainder of felony.

Fortunately for you, West Virginia state law does not recognize this concept. Section 61-11-4 of the state’s Criminal Code that an attainder of felony does not equate to a forfeiture of estate. Some of your assets may be seized, however, if it is proven that they were obtained through criminal activity.

More information on your rights following a felony conviction can be found here on our site.