Misdemeanors in West Virginia
The distinction between misdemeanors and felonies is not only in the severity of the offense, but also in the location of the individual’s existing sentence. When a person is convicted of a felony, he or she will serve his or her sentence in a state prison. When a person is sentenced to a misdemeanor, he or she will serve the sentence in a county jail. So, contrary to popular belief, jail and prison are distinct facilities housing very different prisoners. All felony and misdemeanor cases, however, begin in General District Court.
Misdemeanors and felonies in West Virginia are classified numerically—both felonies and misdemeanors. However, some felony convictions can be served in a jail. A A Class 1 felony is punishable by death or life imprisonment, with or without a fine of up to $100,000. Class 2 felonies are punishable by up to twenty years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $100,000. Class 3 felonies carry sentences ranging from five to twenty years in prison, with or without a $100,000 fine. Class 4 felonies are punishable by up to ten years in prison or as little as two years in prison, with or without a $100,000 fine.
The last two felonies have the option of serving their sentences in a state prison or a county jail. This decision is entirely up to the jury and the judge. Class 5 felonies are punishable by a sentence of one to ten years in a state prison or a maximum of twelve months in a county jail, with or without a fine of $250. A Class 6 Felony can result in a sentence of one to five years in a state prison or a maximum of twelve months in a county jail, with or without a fine of $250.
Misdemeanor charges are handled differently. A Class 1 misdemeanor can result in a maximum of twelve months in county jail, with or without a fine of $250. Class 2 misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in county jail, with or without a $1,000 fine. Class 3 misdemeanors are typically punished with fines of up to $5000 rather than jail time. This is also true for Class 4 misdemeanors, which can result in fines of up to $250.
Expungement in West Virginia
Expungement is possible in West Virginia under certain conditions. This is the location where previous criminal records can be sealed from public view and law enforcement agencies. The records are destroyed, and the individual can then legally state that he or she was never convicted, charged, or arrested for a crime. A judge will grant an expungement petition on a conditional basis.
A person must have received a full executive pardon, been found not guilty of the offense, be a first-time drug offender, been discharged, had the case dismissed, or committed a misdemeanor between the ages of eighteen and twenty-six to be eligible. Those who have received a pardon for first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual offenses, or treason are ineligible for expungement.