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New State Expungement Law to Offer Second Chance (WV)

Friday, June 21, 2019

New State Expungement Law to Offer Second Chance

"MARTINSBURG — West Virginia’s new expungement law, which became effective June 7, was passed with the goal of giving non-violent offenders a second chance for employment.

State Senator Glenn Jefferies, D-Putnam, who was the the lead sponsor in 2017 of the Second Chance for Employment Act, said the criminal expungement law is an update to that act. The updated law allows citizens with misdemeanor or non-violent felony convictions to apply for their record to be cleared if they meet several criteria.

“I am very grateful that the West Virginia Legislature passed nearly unanimously and the Governor signed this important legislation (SB 152) to update the law originally passed in 2017,” Jeffries said in a press release. “The process to qualify for an expungement or seal of records is not easy; we have put many safeguards in place to protect the public.”

Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Harvey and Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Catie Wilkes Delligatti said they are both in favor of the updated law.

Harvey explained persons will now have the opportunity to petition the court with reasons why they deserve to have a non-violent offense removed from their criminal record.

“Successful expungement of criminal records will provide them with better employment opportunities, the ability to apply for financial aid to attend college or trade school, seek better housing or obtain a professional license,” he said. “I believe the changes to the expungement law will be beneficial to helping persons make a better life for themselves and their families.”

Delligatti said she is in favor of laws that help get individuals back on their feet and give them opportunities to become working and contributing members of society, as long as victims remain protected. She added that victims of a crime must be notified of the individual seeking expungement.

“The new law strikes a good balance between restoring the reputation of individuals who have worked to improve their situation and ensuring that consequences remain on the records of violent offenders who could present a danger to our community,” Delligatti said.

Among other changes, the new law has shortened the time frame for expungements, will permit individuals to obtain expungements in an even shorter time frame if they have participated in certain approved rehabilitation programs and removes the age cap on misdemeanors. Previously, it was limited to the ages of 18-26..."

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