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West Virginia Court Records

West Virginia Court Records refer to the official documentation of legal proceedings and decisions in the state. These records are an integral part of the judicial system, providing a comprehensive and reliable account of various legal matters. The state courts create and maintain court records which are public information under the law.

Court records in West Virginia contain a wealth of information that can interest the public. Per the West Virginia Court Rules, these records encompass case files, court orders, judgments, motions, transcripts, and other relevant paperwork associated with civil, criminal, and administrative cases.

They may reveal important details such as case numbers, parties involved, dates of hearings, legal arguments presented, rulings made, and sentences imposed.

Public access to state court records is crucial for promoting an open and fair justice system, allowing individuals to review and understand the proceedings and outcomes of court cases. By providing access to court records, the government enables the public to exercise their right to information and participate in the democratic process.

The public accessibility of court records in the state is governed by the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). This legislation guarantees citizens the right to access court records unless specifically exempted by law. It ensures that individuals have the means to obtain relevant information about court proceedings affecting their lives, community, and the state.

However, certain sensitive information, such as personal identifiers, may be redacted or withheld to protect individual privacy or comply with legal requirements. Furthermore, the court may seal, expunge, or exempt some records from public disclosure under specific circumstances.

Which West Virginia Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

Acquiring a solid grasp of the state court system's operation is crucial for effectively accessing West Virginia Court Records. Within the boundaries of West Virginia, the court system consists of various types of courts, but it is the trial court system that primarily holds the responsibility for safeguarding court records.

Let's take a look at the main courts that constitute the trial court system in West Virginia:

West Virginia Circuit Courts

West Virginia Circuit Courts are the go-to judicial institutions for handling various legal cases throughout the state. These courts hold a position of general jurisdiction, meaning they have the authority to address civil and criminal matters beyond the purview of other specialized courts.

In civil cases, West Virginia Circuit Courts play a pivotal role in resolving disputes. They preside over general civil claims where the stakes exceed $7,500. Moreover, these courts have jurisdiction over civil equity cases involving fairness and equitable relief matters.

When it comes to criminal cases, these courts are entrusted with hearing both felonies, which are serious offenses, and misdemeanors, which encompass less severe violations of the law.

The scope of West Virginia Circuit Courts extends beyond civil and criminal proceedings. They are also responsible for managing probate matters, dealing with juvenile delinquency cases, and addressing child abuse and neglect.

In certain circumstances, West Virginia Circuit Courts may even handle specific cases that are typically within the jurisdiction of Family Courts. For instance, they may take on matters related to Family Protective Orders, designed to safeguard individuals from domestic violence or abuse.

Additionally, Circuit Courts share authority with Family Courts regarding minors' guardianships, reflecting the interconnected legal system.

West Virginia Circuit Courts may establish specialized court divisions and designate specific judicial officers to efficiently manage different cases.

These divisions may include Mental Hygiene Commissioners, who handle matters related to mental health, and specialized programs like Mental Health Court Diversion Programs, Teen Courts, or Juvenile Referees, which cater to the unique needs of particular groups.

West Virginia Magistrate Courts

In the vast legal landscape of West Virginia, Magistrate Courts hold a unique position, specializing in specific civil and criminal cases.

Regarding civil matters, West Virginia Magistrate Courts address particular civil claims. These include general civil lawsuits where the disputed amount is $10,000 or less. Additionally, these courts take the lead in resolving landlord-tenant disputes to offer a convenient platform for individuals caught up in rental-related conflicts.

In West Virginia, Small Claims Courts are under the Magistrate Courts. It serves as a specialized forum dedicated to resolving minor disputes in a simplified and accessible manner. These courts provide a streamlined process for individuals seeking resolution for minor financial claims, typically up to $5,000.

Turning to criminal cases, Magistrate Courts in West Virginia take charge of misdemeanors and play a vital role in conducting preliminary hearings for all types of crimes. They also handle municipal ordinance violations if there isn't a dedicated Municipal Court for such matters. In some cases, they deal with emergency domestic violence protective orders.

Note that there are certain cases outside the jurisdiction of Magistrate Courts. These include the following:

  • Civil equity matters
  • Conflicts over real estate ownership
  • Disputes related to eminent domain
  • Malicious prosecution
  • False imprisonment
  • Slander
  • Libel

West Virginia Family Courts

West Virginia Family Courts provide a compassionate and understanding space where families can seek resolutions for several vital matters. These courts hold jurisdiction over specific cases for the well-being and harmony of families throughout the state.

When it comes to domestic relations, these courts take the lead. They handle cases involving annulment, divorce, paternity disputes, name changes, and the delicate matters of child custody and child support.

Additionally, Family Courts in West Virginia address issues related to child visitation, developing parenting plans that prioritize the children's best interests. Furthermore, they recognize the significance of grandparent visitation rights.

Guardianships of minors are another essential aspect within the realm of Family Courts. These courts share jurisdiction with Circuit Courts to ensure proper care and support for children who may require a legal guardian's guidance and protection.

Family Courts also play a vital role in handling cases related to domestic violence protection. They address civil domestic violence proceedings and take swift and appropriate action to safeguard individuals in vulnerable situations.

Note that in cases involving parental responsibility or family support linked to child abuse or neglect, the jurisdiction falls under the purview of the Circuit Court. In such situations, the Circuit Court handles the specific matter rather than the Family Court.

West Virginia Municipal Courts

West Virginia Municipal Courts are the go-to authorities for overseeing and maintaining order within local communities. These courts have jurisdiction over enforcing a wide range of municipal ordinance violations.

In areas where dedicated Municipal Courts are established, they handle cases related to violations of municipal ordinances. Whether dealing with traffic offenses, zoning infractions, noise disturbances, or other local rules, these courts play a vital role in upholding community standards and promoting a harmonious living environment.

However, in places where Municipal Courts are not available, the responsibility of addressing municipal ordinance violations falls to the Magistrate Courts.

West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission

The West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission, previously known as the Court of Claims, is the authority designated to handle civil claims against the State of West Virginia and its agencies. This commission has the critical task of ensuring fairness and justice when resolving such claims.

The commission deals with the following cases:

  • Contract disputes
  • Personal injuries
  • Construction contract disagreements
  • Property damage claims
  • Wrongful imprisonment cases
  • The harm caused by road hazards
  • Claims arising from escaped inmates of State institutions
  • Claims under the Crime Victims Compensation Act

Note that the commission does not handle Workers' Compensation cases.

When seeking compensation, there is no limit to the amount that one can recover. Individuals have the option to bring their cases without the need for an attorney. After submitting a claim, it undergoes investigation by the relevant state agency and provides a response or an answer.

Hearings conducted by the commission take place in various locations, including Charleston, Princeton, Martinsburg, Fairmont, and Wheeling. The administrative aspects of the cases are managed from an office located at the State Capitol Building in Charleston.

Alongside the primary trial courts, West Virginia boasts two additional levels of courts—the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Intermediate Court of Appeals.

These higher-level courts allow individuals to challenge the lower trial courts' rulings to deliver a thorough and equitable judicial process. Through their oversight and review processes, these courts contribute to upholding the principles of fairness, integrity, and the protection of individual rights.

In addition, the Supreme Court of Appeals and the Intermediate Court of Appeals have access to and can provide certain West Virginia Court Records.

What are the Common Public Court Records in West Virginia?

In their unwavering commitment to promoting transparency and facilitating access to justice, the courts in West Virginia are dedicated to providing, upon request, the following types of court records that are frequently sought after:

West Virginia Civil and Small Claims Records

West Virginia Civil Court Records and West Virginia Small Claims Court Records differ in terms of monetary limitations, the types of cases involved, the proceedings, and the court that handles the records.

Regarding monetary limitations, West Virginia Civil Court Records typically pertain to cases involving more significant sums of money. They encompass a wide range of civil disputes, including but not limited to contract disputes, employment issues, family law matters, property disputes, and personal injury claims.

These cases often involve more formal legal procedures, such as filing complaints, serving legal documents, and conducting trials or hearings.

In contrast, West Virginia Small Claims Court Records are specifically for cases involving small monetary claims. In small claims cases, the maximum amount a plaintiff can seek is $5,000. Typical cases heard in Small Claims Court include issues like unpaid rent, consumer disputes, property damage claims, or small debts owed.

Small Claims Courts in West Virginia often employ simplified procedures that are more accessible to individuals without legal representation.

Obtaining West Virginia Civil Court Records and West Virginia Small Claims Court Records generally involves following specific procedures.

To obtain civil court records, interested parties can visit or contact the appropriate Civil Court division of either a Circuit Court or Magistrate Court that filed the case. In general, the court clerk's office will guide individuals through the necessary steps to access the desired records, which may include filling out request forms and paying applicable fees.

In contrast, accessing small claims court records may be simpler, as these records are often available at the Small Claims Court division of a Magistrate Court. It is advisable to contact the specific court in question for detailed instructions on obtaining these records.

What Information Do West Virginia Civil and Small Claims Records Contain?

West Virginia Civil Court Records and Small Claims Court Records contain a wide range of information about individual cases. While the exact details may vary depending on the specific case, some typical information found in these records include:

  • Case information such as the case number, parties involved (plaintiff and defendant), and the case filing date
  • Copies of legal documents filed by the parties, such as complaints, answers, motions, and other relevant pleadings
  • Court proceedings, including dates of hearings, trials, or settlements
  • Judgments and orders outlining the decision or resolution of the case
  • Docket entries
  • Case disposition (dismissed, settled, or went to trial)
  • Any appeals filed and appellate court decisions, if applicable

West Virginia Criminal Records

West Virginia Criminal Records are official documents and information law enforcement and justice departments keep. These records tell the story of a person's criminal activities and experiences in the legal system, shedding light on their past convictions, charges, court proceedings, and other relevant details.

They are a vital resource for both the public and law enforcement agencies.

For the residents, access to criminal records is a shield against potential threats and a means to make informed decisions. Whether it's a concerned parent researching a prospective babysitter or an employer conducting a background check on a potential employee, these records empower individuals to safeguard their families, businesses, and communities.

Moreover, West Virginia Criminal Records play a crucial role in pursuing justice and law enforcement. They are invaluable for police departments, detectives, and prosecutors, aiding in investigations, case-building, and the pursuit of truth.

By providing a comprehensive overview of an individual's criminal history, these records allow law enforcement professionals to identify patterns, establish connections, and make informed decisions in the interest of public safety.

How To Obtain Criminal Records in West Virginia

Obtaining West Virginia Criminal Records involves specific methods and requirements that interested individuals must adhere to.

There are several avenues one can pursue to obtain these records. The primary method is to request the document through the West Virginia State Police (WVSP), which serves as the state's central repository for criminal records.

Individuals can submit a request directly to the WVSP, either in person or through the mail or by employing IdentoGO, to obtain a copy of a criminal record.

For more information about obtaining a criminal record from the WVSP, visit the WVSP website's Criminal Records page.

Another option available to them is to make an in-person request at their local county Sheriff's Office. These offices often possess access to criminal records and can assist in locating the necessary information.

In addition, individuals can explore alternative sources for state criminal records. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation maintains records of incarcerated individuals, while the West Virginia Health and Human Services Bureau of Children and Families conducts specific criminal background checks for families.

To ensure a smooth process, individuals should diligently adhere to the procedures outlined by the selected source, which may involve completing request forms, providing pertinent details, and paying relevant fees.

West Virginia Traffic Records

West Virginia Traffic Records contain information about a driver's traffic history. Generally, they are vital for employment screening, insurance, personal safety, and legal proceedings.

Aside from the state courts, the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) creates and maintains these records. Though traffic records in West Virginia are public, only individuals who meet specific requirements can access records kept by the DMV.

Generally, the record must belong to the requester, or the requester must have the subject of the record's written authorization to obtain West Virginia Traffic Records from the DMV. If the requester is a company or business, they must also have a legitimate reason for getting the record.

Once obtained, a West Virginia Traffic Record will typically include the following information:

  • The driver's name, date of birth, and address
  • Traffic tickets, violations, and convictions
  • Driver's license number and status
  • Suspensions and revocations

How To Access West Virginia Traffic Records

Individuals can request a copy of their traffic record from the DMV in three ways: online, by mail, or in person.

The fastest and most convenient way to request a traffic record is online. West Virginia driver's license holders can access their traffic records through the DMV's driving record portal.

To obtain a record using this portal, users must provide their driver's license number, complete name, date of birth, and social security or alien registration number (the last four digits).

Individuals can also request a traffic record by mail by downloading and completing the Driving Record Request form. To receive the record, they must mail the form with a copy of their driver's license or state-issued photo ID, a processing fee, and a mailing address.

Interested individuals can pay the processing fee by money order or checks made payable to the "West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles."

Finally, individuals can visit any DMV regional office to request their traffic records in person. When visiting a regional office, they must bring their driver's license or state-issued photo ID. One can use the Regional Offices page on the DMV website to find the offices' locations, contact numbers, and business hours.

West Virginia Probate Records

West Virginia Probate Records are legal documents and records related to administering a deceased individual's estate within the state.

When someone passes away, their estate goes through a legal process known as probate which serves as an essential safeguard against claims made against it by creditors or any potential claims on it by others.

Under probate proceedings, assets, debts, and personal belongings belonging to the deceased are managed and distributed according to their will or state laws of intestacy if there is no will.

West Virginia Probate Records cover various documents, such as wills, inventories of assets, guardianship records, settlement papers, and related paperwork. These records offer an in-depth examination of a deceased individual's financial affairs and provide insight into their family relationships, social standing, and community involvement.

The primary way for individuals to obtain probate records in West Virginia is by visiting the county courthouse where the probate occurred. Each county in West Virginia maintains its set of probate records, typically archived in the clerk's office.

Accessing these West Virginia Court Records requires individuals to bring valid identification and possess pertinent details regarding the deceased, such as their full name and date of death.

West Virginia Family Records

West Virginia Family Records from courts refer to official documents and records related to legal proceedings within West Virginia's family court system. These records are essential for documenting different aspects of family law cases, such as divorce, child custody arrangements, adoption agreements, domestic violence actions, and child support payments.

They may contain details about all parties involved, such as names and addresses, and case-specific information, such as court orders, judgments, and any supporting documents submitted during legal proceedings - for instance, in divorce cases, the records may include grounds for divorce proceedings such as division of assets between spouses.

Accessing West Virginia Family Records follows a structured procedure. First, individuals must determine which county their case was heard in. Each county maintains its family court records. Next, individuals can contact the Family Court Clerk's Office within that county to inquire about procedures for accessing those records.

Generally, individuals seeking access to these court records may be required to fill out and submit a formal request form or write letters to specific court clerks and pay the applicable fee. Some counties may provide portals or electronic databases where individuals can search certain records.

Note that some essential records may remain confidential or sealed due to the sensitive nature of certain cases involving minors.

West Virginia Bankruptcy Records

West Virginia Bankruptcy Records refer to the official documentation and information related to bankruptcy cases filed within the state. These records encompass various legal documents, financial statements, court filings, and other relevant information about individuals or businesses that have filed for bankruptcy protection.

In a nutshell, West Virginia Bankruptcy Records serve as a comprehensive record of bankruptcy proceedings, including the details of the case, the parties involved, the assets and liabilities, and the outcome or resolution of the bankruptcy process.

The state trial courts hold the majority of West Virginia Court Records, but the responsibility for bankruptcy filings and records falls under the purview of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, which is part of the federal court system.

Specifically, West Virginia has two bankruptcy courts: the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of West Virginia and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Each court has its own divisions and physical locations.

The Northern District has court locations in Wheeling and Clarksburg. On the other hand, the Southern District has courthouses in Beckley, Bluefield, Charleston, Huntington, and Parkersburg. These locations are where bankruptcy records for West Virginia are processed and maintained.

How To Obtain Bankruptcy Records in West Virginia

Interested parties have several methods available to obtain bankruptcy records in West Virginia.

One option is through Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER). This system allows users to access bankruptcy records 24/7 after registering for an account. There is a fee per page view when using PACER.

Another method is the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS), where individuals can access bankruptcy records by dialing (866) 222-8029. Upon calling, it provides instructions on how to utilize the phone keys to search for cases. 

Interested individuals can also utilize the Case Management and Electronic Case File (CM/ECF) system. This method allows free access to bankruptcy records at public access terminals. However, only CM/ECF login holders can access cases closed for over 12 months or filed before December 1, 2013.

If required, the clerk's office can provide the requested documents by mail, charging a fee per page.

For those who prefer in-person requests, interested parties can obtain bankruptcy court records in West Virginia by visiting the clerk's office. Accessing physical files in the office may also incur charges. Acceptable modes of payment include credit or debit cards or using the WVNB Payment Form.

Lastly, individuals interested in archived case information can do so at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). However, they must contact the clerk's office and complete and submit the NARA Bankruptcy Cases Order Form.

West Virginia does not currently have online pools of court records available in the state. So, someone who wants to obtain West Virginia Court Records must identify the local courthouse that heard the case.

Interested individuals can visit the West Virginia Judiciary website to locate the specific court holding the desired records. It provides a county map with detailed information on courts organized by county. It also includes contact information, such as physical addresses and court judges' names.

Before visiting the courthouse, it is advisable to call ahead and confirm the availability of the records and any other requirements for inspection or obtaining copies. This action ensures a smoother process and saves time.

When requesting a court record in West Virginia, individuals must provide specific information to help the clerk's office locate the desired documents. The required information may vary slightly depending on the court and the sought record type, but the following are the general details typically needed:

  • Case number
  • Party names
  • Date of the case
  • Court type or location

If available, provide any additional relevant information that may assist in locating the records. It may include the nature of the case (criminal, civil, family law, etc.), the type of document being sought (complaint, judgment, motion, etc.), or any other pertinent details related to the case.

Alternatively, individuals interested can use the West Virginia State Law Library as an online search platform to access judiciary law-related information within the state. As a depository library, it houses government documents in print and electronic formats. However, this platform has limitations regarding the availability of documents and information.

Counties in West Virginia

Courts in West Virginia

South Charleston Municipal Court401-D Street, PO Box 8597, South Charleston, WV
Charleston Municipal Court501 Virginia Street East, Charleston, WV
Kanawha County Circuit Court111 Court Street, Charleston, WV
West Virginia Supreme Court Of Appeals1900 Kanawha Blvd East, Charleston, WV
Berkeley County Circuit Court380 West South Street, Martinsburg, WV
Cabell County Circuit Court750 Fifth Avenue, Huntington, WV
Huntington Municipal Court806 Fifth Avenue, Box 1659, Huntington, WV
Morgantown Municipal Court300 Spruce Street, Morgantown, WV
Monongalia County Circuit Court75 High Street, Morgantown, WV
Parkersburg Municipal Court1 Government Square, PO Box 1627, Parkersburg, WV