A criminal conviction doesn't just mean fines and incarceration -- it also means a lifetime where that criminal record follows you everywhere you go. That can ultimately limit the opportunities you have and make it much harder to put your past where it belongs.
Well, many West Virginians with misdemeanor and nonviolent felony convictions now have a chance to close that chapter on their lives for good through the expungement of their criminal record.
Senate Bill 152 went into effect on June 7, 2019, as an updated measure meant to enhance the Second Chance Law that was first passed in 2017. In part, the law is designed to revitalize the sagging workforce in the state. With so many employers using background checks as part of their routine hiring practices, many people with a mistake in their past -- no matter how long ago or how minor -- find themselves struggling to get work.
In part, the measure is also designed to keep people from returning to a life of crime out of desperation to support themselves or their families. When someone has a criminal record that prevents them from getting a legitimate job, they may feel forced to turn to criminal activity again just to survive.
To qualify under the new rule for expungement, a conviction has to be at the state level and cannot include a crime of violence, like murder, domestic assault, battery or child abuse. If you were convicted of a felony, you have to be out of prison and off parole for five years before you qualify for expungement. If you were convicted of a misdemeanor, it takes between one and two years after conviction to qualify.
For more information on how to get your criminal record expunged, talk to a criminal defense attorney about your options.