A person acquires a criminal record in West Virginia the first time they are arrest and fingerprinted in the state. Information about arrests, convictions, and court dispositions is sent to the West Virginia State Police Criminal Identification Bureau, which manages the state’s central repository of criminal history information.
Criminal records are tightly controlled in West Virginia, and all in-state criminal background check requests must be sent through the company IdentoGO.
A person may request a copy of their own criminal record in West Virginia, but any request to view the West Virginia criminal record of another person must be accompanied by that person’s written and signed authorization.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of West Virginia, requesting a copy of a criminal record is a bit more complicated than in most other states, and requires a person to submit to an electronic fingerprint scan with IdentoGO.
What is included in a West Virginia criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a West Virginia criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a West Virginia criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Personal information such as age, date of birth, sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints and mugshot
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record. Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person. They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public. In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:
- Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering.
- Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
- Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.
What is the difference between a West Virginia arrest record and a Virginia criminal record?
While an arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
How do I request a copy of my West Virginia criminal record?
Unlike other states, West Virginia does not have a searchable online database of criminal history record information, nor does the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) accept criminal background check requests.
In fact, all criminal record checks must be done with IdentoGO, a company that performs electronic fingerprint scans and forwards the requests to the WVSP to see if fingerprints match any on record.
Here’s how to request a criminal background check through IdentoGO:
- Visit Identogo.com.
- Click “Services” in the dropdown menu.
- Type in the name of your city or zip code and select the location nearest you.
- Schedule an appointment.
Please note that business hours and services offered may be affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The IdentoGO website states that some locations are currently closed for the time being.
How do I request another person’s criminal record in West Virginia?
A person or organization may also submit a request to view another person’s record according to West Virginia Code 15-2-24(d), but they must submit the subject’s written and signed authorization along with the request (See this Wvsp.gov Criminal Records FAQ page for more information).
How do I obtain a physical copy of a West Virginia criminal record?
If a criminal record exists in your name or in the subject of the request’s name, and there is a fingerprint match following the IdentoGO record check, a hard copy of the criminal record will be sent to you at the address specified on your request form.
Why can’t I access a West Virginia criminal record?
According to West Virginia state law, unless you obtain that person’s written and signed authorization, you may not view the criminal record of another person in the state.
If a request to view a copy of your own West Virginia criminal record yields a negative response, it means that you likely do not have a criminal record on file in the state.
How do I search for West Virginia criminal case court records?
The West Virginia Judiciary makes available searchable online databases of WV Supreme Court Opinions and Public Service Commission of West Virginia Web Dockets, but does not provide a convenient method of remotely accessing criminal case courts records to the general public.
In order to request criminal case records, you must make a direct request to the West Virginia court that processed the case. Use the West Virginia Judiciary: Court Information by County directory to find the address and contact information of the court where the criminal case was held and make a request to the Clerk of the Court.
Does West Virginia allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
West Virginia state law allows for certain criminal charges to be expunged, or removed, from a person’s criminal record.
Follow this process to request expungement of a criminal charge in West Virginia:
- Have a background check done with IdentoGO.
- Contact the Circuit Clerk of the county where the arrest occurred.
- File a Petition for Expungement with the Circuit Court.
If the expungement is passed, the West Virginia State Police Criminal Records Section will then send a certified letter to the Circuit Clerk confirming that the charge has been expunged.
How can I have false information on a West Virginia criminal record corrected?
If your West Virginia criminal record contains inaccuracies, you can submit a challenge by completing the following procedure:
- Highlight the mistake on the copy of your West Virginia criminal record.
- Print, complete, and sign a Challenge of Criminal History Record form.
- Prepare a cashier’s check or money order for $20 payable to “The Superintendent, West Virginia State Police”. Personal checks or cash are not accepted.
- Mail the form, highlighted copy of the criminal record, and payment to the following address:
West Virginia State Police
Criminal History Section
701 Jefferson Road
South Charleston, WV 25309
How long are West Virginia criminal records kept on file?
Criminal history record information is maintained indefinitely by the West Virginia State Police unless a successful expungement order is passed.