Jeffries: Expungement law gives nonviolent felons who have paid their debt a second chance

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Putnam County Senator Glenn Jeffries believes most in the state legislature knew the criminal expungement law that went into effect on Friday was long overdue.

The law, spearheaded by Jeffries and called the West Virginia’s Second Chance For Employment Act, can now help thousands of West Virginians erase records of certain nonviolent felonies and misdemeanor convictions.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Jeffries said that the law protects the public, while giving nonviolent felons who have paid their debt a chance for employment that provides a living wage.

Jeffries, D-Putnam, appeared on Tuesday’s MetroNews ‘Talkline’ and added that when an individual has to put down nonviolent felony charges down on a job application it can be a deterrent for an employer and this can change that.

“I’ve talked to many individuals out there that have some kind of nonviolent felony charge and they have been hampered trying to find meaningful employment,” he said. “Employment where it pays a good wage.

“I felt like this piece of legislation will be able to help individuals.”

He said employment was the driving force behind this law, which was SB 152. The act is similar to the legislation that went into law in 2017, but after the legislation process resulted in only reducing misdemeanors.

With the new law, there is now no age limit on expungement of misdemeanors and the post-probation for nonviolent felony charges has been taken from 10 years to five years.

To be eligible for expungement of a misdemeanor or nonviolent felony, the person must meet several criteria, including:

— Single misdemeanor: 1 year after conviction, completion of any sentence of incarceration, or completion of period of supervision (whichever is later in time).
— Multiple misdemeanors: 2 years after conviction, completion of any sentence of incarceration, or completion of period of supervision (whichever is later in time).
— Nonviolent felony: 5 years after conviction, completion of any sentence of incarceration, or completion of period of supervision (whichever is later in time).

A release by Jeffries said to qualify, a person may not have committed a violent felony, which includes, but is not limited to: murder, domestic violence, assault, battery, burglary, child abuse; use of explosives, deadly or dangerous weapons; sexual offenses, offenses against law enforcement, children or incapacitated adults; driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance, or refusing a blood alcohol content (BAC) test, driving on a suspended license, any motor vehicle offense in which the person holds a commercial driver’s license; cruelty to animals; or conspiracy to commit one of these offenses.

Jefferies said the expungement process has several steps that include petitioning the circuit court in which the conviction occurred and a number of individuals a person may have to get in contact with that include the superintendent of state police, prosecuting attorney, chief of police.

He said the best way for an individual to start the process is to contact a lawyer. The West Virginia Legal Aid also has a question and answer section available HERE.

An individual may one apply for a second chance expungement once.

“If you get another charge against you, you’re done,” Jeffries said. “That’s why we are calling it the second chance, you get one time.”

The forms to apply for expungement are available on the WV Supreme Court website HERE or from a county circuit clerk.


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