West Virginia Public Records
Citizens and other entities in West Virginia can access public records.
Public records provide essential information about the people and events in the state's history. These documents are available for research, business, or personal purposes.
The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the public to request records from state and local government agencies, including judicial, executive, and legislative bodies.
No statement of purpose is needed when making a FOIA request. The records request must be made in writing and submitted to the appropriate agency.
How to Find West Virginia Public Records
The agency you need to contact will depend on the type of public records you need.
Some agencies, such as the West Virginia Health Statistics Center in Charleston, have Vitalchek, a secure online ordering system for birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates. Others may choose to request records through the mail or in person.
On the other hand, you may contact the agency responsible for the records you need in person, by mail, or by phone.
Public records can also be found online through third-party websites. These websites have no affiliation with the state of West Virginia, but they may have a collection of public records from various sources.
Are West Virginia Public Records Available Online?
Not all West Virginia Public Records are available online.
For instance, the West Virginia Court system does not have an online case search feature. The only way to access these records is by visiting the county courthouse or requesting them through the mail.
You must contact the agency that maintains the records you seek to determine whether they are accessible online.
What Records are Available in West Virginia?
The types of records available to the public in West Virginia will depend on the agency that maintains them.
Some of the records that may be available include, but are not limited to:
- Birth certificates
- Death certificates
- Marriage licenses
- Divorce records
- Court records
- Inmate records
- Correctional records
- Property records
- Business licenses
There may or may not be a fee associated with obtaining these records. The costs will depend on the agency and the requested record type.
What Records are Non-Public in West Virginia?
Exemptions to the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act exist to protect individuals' privacy and prevent the disclosure of confidential information.
Some of the records that are exempt from disclosure include, but are not limited to:
- Medical records
- Personnel records
- Law enforcement records
- Child abuse and neglect records
- Documents that would jeopardize an ongoing investigation
- Records that would endanger the public safety
- Trade secrets
Types of Public Records Available in West Virginia
Below are some of the types of public records that are available in West Virginia:
West Virginia Public Criminal Records
The West Virginia State Police maintains a public criminal history database that includes information on felony and misdemeanor convictions. You can search this database by name for a small fee.
Under West Virginia Code 15-2-24(D), the Criminal Investigation Bureau is allowed to release criminal history information to the public with the approval of the Superintendent.
You can find the following information in a West Virginia Public Criminal Record:
- Date of birth
- Physical features
- Previous and current charges
The only way to access these records is through this site. People who go directly to the State Police do not receive criminal history information.
Police Departments and Sheriffe Office in West Virginia :
Arrest Records and Warrants
There are three ways to find arrest records and warrants in West Virginia:
- West Virginia State Police: The West Virginia State Police has a central repository of criminal history information available to the public. You can access these records by going to the website and searching for the individual in question.
- County's Sheriff's Department: Each county in West Virginia has its own sheriff's department. These departments are responsible for keeping records of all arrests within their county. To obtain these records, you will need to contact the sheriff's department directly and make a request. Some have outstanding arrests listed on their website.
- Local Court or County Clerk: You may also be able to find arrest records at the local court or county clerk's office. These offices usually have a history of all arrests made in their jurisdiction.
Information you can see in an arrest record includes:
- Date of birth
- Physical features
- Bail information
- Previous and current arrests
You should note that not all this information will be available to the public. Some of it, like medical records, may be exempt from disclosure under the law.
Inmate and Jail Records
The Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation is responsible for maintaining records on all inmates in West Virginia.
There is an online inmate search tool within their website that you can use to find an inmate. You will need the following information to use this tool:
- First Name (optional)
- Last Name (partial or complete)
Jails and Prisons in West Virginia :
West Virginia Background Checks
You must schedule an appointment with IdentoGO to conduct a West Virginia background check.
West Virginia follows the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which regulates how to use background check information. The FCRA requires that you have a permissible purpose for ordering a background check and get the individual's written consent before collecting the report.
Some of the permissible purposes for ordering a background check in West Virginia include:
- Tenant screening
- Educational purposes
How to find Sex Offenders in West Virginia
The State Police has an online database of sex offenders available to the public. You can search for offenders by name, address, city, or county.
The database will provide you with the following information:
- Conviction date
However, no one should use this information to harass or threaten sex offenders. The public can also submit a tip to the State Police if they have information about a sex offender who does not comply with the registration requirements.
West Virginia Public Vital Records
The Division of Vital Statistics maintains vital records. You can order birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates through their website.
Since West Virginia is not an open records state, you must present additional documentation to prove your relationship to the individual before obtaining a copy of the vital record certificate.
You can start your search for vital records in West Virginia by going to the Division of Vital Statistics website. You can either order by mail, phone, or in person.
There is an accompanying fee for each vital record that you order.
West Virginia Court Records
Court records in West Virginia are available to the public.
However, West Virginia does not have a central repository for court records, unlike other states.
Instead, you will need to contact the court clerk in the county where the case was filed to obtain copies of court records. Depending on the county, you may be able to request copies of court records online, by mail, or in person.
State Court System in West Virginia
There are four levels of courts in West Virginia:
- The Supreme Court
- The Court of Appeals
- The Circuit Courts
- The District Courts
The West Virginia Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the state. The court contains five justices elected to twelve-year terms.
The Court of Appeals is the intermediate appellate court in West Virginia. The court hears appeals from the circuit courts and district courts.
There are 55 circuit courts in West Virginia, divided into 31 circuits. The circuit courts have original jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases.
Lastly, district courts are the courts of limited jurisdiction in West Virginia. These courts hear traffic violations, small claims cases, landlord-tenant disputes, and other misdemeanor criminal cases.
Courts in West Virginia :
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees keeping driving records in West Virginia.
You can order your driving record through the DMV Online Services with the following information:
- A filled out Driving Record Request form (DMV-101-PS1)
- A valid copy of your driver's license or state-issued photo identification
A release authorization form is needed if you request someone else's driving record.
Civil Driving Infractions
Civil driving infractions do show up on your driving record. These include:
- Speeding tickets
- Improper lane change
- Driving without insurance
- Driving with a suspended or revoked license
West Virginia License Plate Lookup
There is currently no online license plate lookup service for West Virginia.
To request a license plate lookup, you will need to contact the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles.
West Virginia Property and Asset Records Online
You will need the following information to search:
- The name of the owner
- The address or parcel ID of the property
- The county where the property is located
You can also go to the county assessor or county clerk's office to search for property records.
Important Government Agencies in West Virginia
Here are the essential government agencies to help you find public records in West Virginia.
- Secretary of State
- State Governor
- West Virginia State Legislature
- West Virginia Judiciary
- Office of the WV Attorney General
- Vital Records
- West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources
- West Virginia State Police
- Treasurer’s Office
- West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles
- Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Counties in West Virginia
Other Records in West Virginia
List of Content
- How to Find West Virginia Public Records
- What Records are Available in West Virginia?
- Types of Public Records Available in West Virginia
- West Virginia Public Criminal Records
- Arrest Records and Warrants
- Inmate and Jail Records
- West Virginia Background Checks
- West Virginia Public Vital Records
- West Virginia Court Records
- Driving Records
- Civil Driving Infractions
- West Virginia License Plate Lookup
- West Virginia Property and Asset Records Online
- Important Government Agencies in West Virginia
- Other Records