Reprieves, Paroles, and Pardons
Pursuant to W. Va. Code § 5-1-16 and 16a, the Governor has the power to remit fines and penalties, in such cases and under such regulations as now are or may be prescribed by law, and to commute capital punishment. Except where the prosecution was carried on by the House of Delegates, to grant reprieves, paroles and pardons, after conviction; but s/he must record in the journal of executive proceedings and communicate to the Legislature, the particulars of every case of fine or penalty remitted, of punishment commuted, and of reprieve, parole or pardon granted, with his or her reasons therefor. In any case wherein the Governor has power to grant a pardon, instead of granting the same unconditionally, s/he may, after sentence, grant it upon such conditions as s/he may deem proper, with the assent of the person sentenced. Moreover, for the purpose of carrying into effect such conditional pardon, the Governor may issue his or her warrant directed to any proper officer, who must obey and execute it, instead of the sentence originally awarded. In any case in which the Governor must exercise the power conferred on him or her by the constitution to commute capital punishment, s/he may issue an order to the warden of the penitentiary, requiring him or her to receive and confine (and the warden must receive and confine) in the penitentiary, according to such order, the person whose punishment is commuted. To carry into effect any commutation of punishment, the Governor may issue his or her warrant directed to any proper officer, who must obey and execute the same.
Furthermore, any person who has received a full and unconditional pardon from the Governor, pursuant to the provisions of section eleven, article VII of the Constitution of West Virginia may petition the circuit court in the county where the conviction took place to have the record of such conviction expunged. The petition must be served upon the prosecuting attorney of the county where the petition was filed. Any person petitioning the court for an order of expungement must publish a notice of the time and place that such petition will be made, which notice must be published as a Class I legal advertisement in compliance with the provisions of article three, chapter fifty-nine of the code and the publication area for such publication must be the county where the petition is filed. The circuit court, upon verification of the act of pardon and after a hearing to determine that good cause exists, may enter an order directing that all public record of the petitioner’s conviction be expunged.
The statutes further provide that the record expunged pursuant to the provisions of the section may not be considered in an application to any educational institution in the state of West Virginia or an application for any licensure required by any professional organization in the state. No person must be eligible for expungement until one year after having been pardoned. No person must be eligible for expungement until five years after the discharge of his or her sentence upon the conviction for which he or she was pardoned. Moreover, no person must be eligible for expungement of a record of conviction of first degree murder; treason; kidnapping; or any felony.