An expungement is the legal means by which a criminal record is removed from public view or sealed. There are several important steps involved in the process of expunging a criminal record. This page is only intended to be a general overview of the process and provide you with basic information about the process of expunging a criminal record. We strongly recommend that you contact an expungement attorney to assist you in the process.
The first step in the process is determining whether you qualify for an expungement. There are several aspects to determining whether criminal charges and/or criminal convictions legally qualify to be expunged. WV law only permits the expungement of certain criminal convictions and charges that have been dismissed or in which a person is found not guilty.
Given our experience in handling expungements, our attorneys can inform you very quickly whether you meet the qualifications for an expungement. In fact, most of our initial consultations take less than 10 minutes.
If you qualify for an expungement, the second step is gathering the necessary information that will be needed for the court filings. Depending on the type of criminal record that you wish to expunge, several important pieces of information will be needed to provide the court.
Occasionally, individuals are not in possession of the required documents, and those documents must be obtained directly from the court. An experienced criminal expungement attorney can easily assist you in gathering the required information for your expungement.
File the Petition
After the information is gathered, the third step is the filing of a petition for expungement with the court. Most often, the petition for expungement will be filed in the circuit court where the criminal charge originated. The petition for expungement must be in proper legal form, or it may be rejected by the clerk or denied by the circuit judge. For example, the petition for expungement must be “verified” – meaning that you swear that the information contained in the petition for expungement is true. The signature on the petition for expungement must also be notarized.
Additionally, certain persons and entities must be served with a copy of the petition for expungement to comply with the legal requirements. If the petition is filed to expunge a conviction, then there will be a filing fee payable to the circuit clerk.
Our firm has handled many expungements over the years. We ensure that the petition for expungement is in proper form and that it is served on all of the required persons and entities.
Next, there are specific waiting periods that must pass before the circuit judge can decide whether to grant or deny the petition for expungement. During this time, certain persons and entities can file objections or notices of opposition to your petition for expungement. After that waiting period has passed and depending on whether any objections or notices of opposition were filed, the circuit judge can schedule your case for a court hearing, or the circuit judge can make a decision without a hearing. Whether the judge scheduled a hearing depends on the circumstances of your particular case.
Finalize the Expungement
If a circuit judge grants the petition for expungement, then a court order will be entered. That court order will direct certain entities to either expunge or seal the applicable criminal record. By law, the entities have a specified amount of time to complete the expungement or sealing of records. If the expungement is for a criminal conviction, there is a separate fee for the West Virginia State Police to process the expungement.
We follow-up with the courts and the entities to verify that an expungement has been completed and that your criminal record is officially sealed or expunged.
Contact The Moore Law Firm, PLLC to discuss your case.