Performing a West Virginia background check can be tricky because, with a background check, West Virginia may differ in some respects from other states.
Because the legal code is constantly being updated, revised and altered, there are a number of pitfalls to avoid in order to prevent costly fines and punishments. This means that to remain compliant and obey 2022 laws in WV, there’s a specific method to use when searching criminal files and garnering other public records.
The most important stipulation is that when a background check is conducted for any professional reason, the person being checked must provide written consent.
However, if a free criminal background check report is being performed for personal reasons, consent isn’t required (Related Reading: Can someone run a background check without my permission?)
This article provides comprehensive information in all relevant areas concerning background checks in accordance with West Virginia’s laws in 2022.
Free Background Check: West Virginia Info and Public Records
When inquiring about how to get a background check or seeking to obtain a background report on yourself or another person, the cost and accuracy of the records are key considerations.
The good news is that many public and state records in West Virginia can be obtained at no cost online or through local resources. Some online websites will also do name-based checks for a free criminal background check, though there is always a risk of incompleteness or inaccuracy with a free service, so it is often better to choose a free trial background check.6
Search West Virginia Public Records Using County Clerks
To find general public records and personal information about a specific individual, a great resource is the county clerk. The county clerk can provide a variety of information on people of interest, including vital records and public records, such as:
Follow this step-by-step process to find public records of interest.
Step 1: Specify the county of interest and enter “West Virginia (county name) county clerk” in any browser.
For example, when seeking public records from Mineral County, WV, enter “West Virginia Mineral County county clerk.”
Step 2: Identify the official website for the county clerk and follow the link.
Mineral County’s official website is the first search option to appear.10
Step 3: Locate the menu options on the clerk’s website and find and select “Records.”
On Mineral County’s site, there is a top menu with five options listed. “Records” is the fourth option and has a drop-down menu.
Step 4: Choose the type of record search desired.
For the example county, the drop-down menu includes the options “Vital Records Search” or “Records Search.”
Step 5: Type in the date range of interest as well as the first and last name of the person of interest in the database and hit “Enter.”
Mineral County’s website reroutes to a search index where specific information can be entered. Other counties redirect to similar databases.
This search should populate all relevant public records for the individual subject of the search.
Find West Virginia Arrests, Warrants, Convictions
Though public criminal records are included in official background checks, finding comprehensive and accurate criminal records outside of this route can be a bit trickier.6
The most direct avenue is to contact the agency responsible for the arrest and the state or county courts associated with the arrest, warrant, or conviction. Some arrest records may be available online, but this is not guaranteed.6
To obtain information from the county court systems, follow these steps:
Step 1: Visit the West Virginia Judiciary website.
Step 2: Use the Site Search function at the top of the page to search for a specific record.
For example, if searching for “Jim Smith’s” criminal record in Kanawha county, enter “Jim Smith Kanawha county criminal record.” This will generate available information from the WV Supreme Court, which must then be sifted through for relevance.
OR for the most complete results:
Step 2: Find “Public Resources” listed in the top menu.
Step 3: Select the first option under “Public Resources”: “Court Information by County”
Step 4: Select the desired county from the map of West Virginia and click on it.
The county of Kanawha is centrally located in West Virginia.
Step 5: Locate the name and contact information of the county court clerk.
Cathy S. Gatson, Kanawha County Court Clerk
Kanawha County Judicial Building
P.O. Box 2351
111 Court Street
Charleston, WV 25301
(304) 357 – 0440
M-F 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Step 6: Visit or contact the County Clerk’s office during business hours to initiate a record request.
To obtain information from the state court system, follow these steps:
Step 1: Visit the West Virginia Judiciary website.
Step 2: Find “Supreme Court” listed in the top menu.
Step 3: Scan options under “Supreme Court” to find “Clerk’s Office” and click.
The link routes to West Virginia’s Clerk of Court and contact information:
Edythe Nash Gaiser, Clerk of Court
State Capitol Rm E-317
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston WV 25305
Step 4: Scroll down to the section heading “Obtaining copies of papers filed” and click the hyperlink to “calendar page.”
The calendar page allows viewing of the court calendar and docket. There is no system for searching cases by name, but prior months’ dockets and current dockets can be viewed.
Step 5: For access to additional records, visit the Clerk’s office during business hours (8:30 am – 5:00 pm M-F) to process a request.
Charges for copies range from 25 cents per page for pending cases to $1 per page for closed cases. Emailed or faxed copies cost $1 to $5 per page.
Note that a search can also be conducted from the initial West Virginia Judiciary website by typing information into the “Site Search” bar at the top of the page. This may generate some relevant records as well.
Free Criminal Background Check: Criminal History Records Check West Virginia
An official West Virginia background check performed at the request of an employing agency is not free of charge and requires a consent form signed by the individual in question.6 However, there are online databases that can be used to obtain criminal records in West Virginia. Some of these databases allow search by county, case number, case name, and case status, though the results are not official or necessarily comprehensive.13
Criminal records can also be searched and accessed through local law enforcement agencies such as the state police department or county sheriff’s office.
To search for criminal records at the state level, follow these steps:
Step 1: Search “West Virginia State Police” in any browser and follow the first link to access the official website of the West Virginia State Police.
Step 2: Scan the top menu for “Criminal Records” and click the link.
Step 3: Note the “Criminal Records” contact number (304) 746-2450 and call to request specific records.
To search for criminal records at the county level, follow these steps:
Step 1: Search “West Virginia (County Name) Sheriff’s Office.”
For example, if interested in records from Boone County, type in “West Virginia Boone County Sheriff’s Office.”
Step 2: Click the link to navigate to the official website.
On the Boone County Sheriff’s website, there are links to search the WV State Police Sex Offender Registry and also to search regional jails and prisons for incarcerated individuals.3
Step 3: Note the contact information for the Sheriff’s Office and call to process a criminal record request.
The Boone County Sheriff’s Office lists all contact information on the left-hand side of the page.3
Boone County Sheriff Chad Barker
206 Court St., Ste. 200
Madison, WV 25130
M-F 8:00 – 4:00 PM
How to Get a West Virginia State Police Background Check (West Virginia Fingerprint Background Check)
For an official West Virginia background check, a fingerprinting system is utilized. West Virginia uses a third-party service to obtain and process digital fingerprints.9 To fulfill the fingerprinting process for an official employment fingerprint background check West Virginia follows these steps:
Step 1: Using any web browser, navigate to the IdentoGo website.9
Step 2: Select the “Get Fingerprinted” option at the top of the page.
Step 3: Under “Select a Fingerprinting Service by State,” find West Virginia in the drop-down box, and click “Go.”
Step 4: Scroll down under “Enrollment Services” and select “Digital Fingerprinting.”
Step 5: Enter the “Service Code” supplied by the employing agency to continue.
A service code is typically received from the employing agency via email.
Step 6: Select “Appointment” and complete the various information sections to set up the appointment.
Step 7: Bring the specified identifying document to the appointment and make payment to IdentoGo directly on location.
When seeking a personal background check in West Virginia, there won’t be a service code to get started, so follow these steps instead:
Step 1: Using any web browser, navigate the enrollment portal on the IdentoGo website.9
Step 2: Scroll down to the bottom of the web page and select “State History Check.”
Note that there is also an “FBI History Check” available.
Step 3: From the drop-down menu, select “West Virginia – Personal Record Check” and click “Submit.”
Step 4: Select “Schedule an Appointment” from the menu options available
Step 5: Complete the enrollment form with all required personal information, selecting “Next” to progress through the pages.
Step 6: Select the date and time for an appointment.
Step 7: Bring the specified identifying document to the appointment and make payment to IdentoGo directly on location.
To search criminal files directly in accordance with 2022 West Virginia Laws, contacting county clerk’s offices and sheriff’s offices may be an excellent avenue. Refer to the sections above for what type of information can be gathered from each agency and the table below for information by county.
West Virginia Inmate Lookup and Sex Offender Registry Screening: Free
The state of West Virginia has government sites that allow users to search for inmates and sex offenders. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation permits the viewing of daily incarcerations by county or regional jails or prisons. The offender’s name, case number, and some identifying information may be viewable.
The West Virginia State Police Sex Offender Registry allows search by individual’s name, location, or email address. A search can also be conducted by neighborhood. The registry search can be limited to “Wanted Offenders,” “Sexually Violent Predators,” or left unrestricted. The registry will generate information about the offender’s conviction and current location, as well as a mugshot.6
West Virginia Pre Employment Background Check
When curious about a pre-employment background check what shows up, the first question that must be addressed is the type of background check being conducted. In West Virginia, name-based background checks are not conducted; fingerprint-based checks are the standard.
Individuals or agencies may request a background check on someone seeking employment, with the specified person’s signed consent.6 Some job positions require specific background checks to ensure suitability for a job role or with a designated population. Continue reading for some examples.
Background Check West Virginia Teachers and Education Background Check WV:
According to West Virginia Code §18A-3-10, any first-time applicant for licensure by the Department of Education must be fingerprinted by the State Police for state and federal criminal background checks. It is recommended that individuals use the IdentoGo website to submit digital fingerprints.9
The fingerprints are usually processed in 1-3 days and sent to the requesting agency. They are then analyzed and cross-checked with an abuse registry before being sent on to the FBI for a federal check. The applicant is responsible for the cost of fingerprinting and criminal record checks. Any information obtained from these analyses may be used as grounds for rejecting licensure.15
For individuals licensed outside of the state of West Virginia, the protocol for initial licensure must still be followed. However, if an individual is already employed in the West Virginia public school system, Form 4B must be obtained from the school system and an employer signature and character recommendation secured.15
Healthcare Background Check West Virginia Cares Background Check Status
Per West Virginia Code §16-49–2, it is illegal for public health departments, healthcare providers, and covered contractors to hire and engage an individual before the background check process is complete. The West Virginia Clearance for Access: Registry & Employment Screening (WV CARES) is a program regulated by West Virginia’s Department of Health & Human Resources and the WV State Police Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), using fingerprints to obtain criminal records at the state and federal level.11
Only 25 states, including West Virginia, have an established comprehensive background check program for employees seeking work in vulnerable healthcare populations. WV CARES includes a registry check in addition to the fingerprint background check. The registry check includes a review of national abuse and sex offender registries, as well as the Nurse Aid Registry.11
West Virginia Child Care Background Check
West Virginia Code §16-49-1 was amended to add child care and foster care providers to the WV CARES registry. Therefore, individuals seeking employment in child care are subject to a West Virginia background check. Formerly, individuals were also subject to a required Protective Services Record Check,4 per Chapter 78 of the West Virginia Code, but this rule is temporarily suspended secondary to COVID-19.
Persons are required to complete the state fingerprint background check process outlined above using a service code provided by the hiring agency.
West Virginia DOT Record
Visit the West Virginia DMV website to obtain personal driving records. Driving records can be requested online, or in-person through a local DMV branch, by mail, or by email. Follow these steps:
Step 1: Submit required identifying information via DMV Online Services
Step 1: Complete the Driving Record Request Form on the DMV website.
Step 2: Locate your Driver’s License or state-issued photo or make a copy.
Note that processing fees apply without a copy of the Driver’s License or state-issued photo:
- $7.50 processing fee when the name and license number only are provided
- $8.50 processing fee when DOB or SSN is provided in place of license number
Step 3: Choose how to submit the DOT request
If submitting in person, bring the Driving Record Request Form and valid ID to the nearest regional DMV office.
If submitting by mail, mail the Driving Record Request Form and copy of valid ID to the mailing address below:
Driving Records Section
PO Box 17020
Charleston, WV 25317
Note: Be sure to include a return mailing address!
If submitting by email, email the Driving Record Request Form and copy of valid ID to [email protected]
When requesting another individual’s DOT record, the same process must be followed, but a Release Authorization Form must also be completed.
Background Check for Gun Purchase in West Virginia
In West Virginia, background checks and permits are not required to purchase a handgun from a private seller.5 However, federally licensed firearms dealers are required by federal law to conduct background checks on an individual before commencing the sale of a firearm.7
West Virginia Background Check Laws (West Virginia Public Records Law)
West Virginia Background Check Laws require the prescreening of relevant registries (abuse registry, sex offender registry, etc.) and a fingerprint-based background check for providers covered under the WV CARES act (West Virginia Code §16-49-1). West Virginia does not currently have any “ban the box” or fair hiring laws.8
According to West Virginia FOIA Laws §29B-1-3, all public records must be accessible to the public upon request. Individuals seeking to examine or make copies of specific public records should make direct requests to record custodians (e.g. clerks, court clerks, etc). There may be fees associated with record retrieval.
How Long Does a Background Check Take In West Virginia?
Individuals may wonder “How long does a fingerprint background check take?” Most background checks in West Virginia will produce a report in a few days. However, the process can take up to two weeks or more.2
How Far Back Does a Background Check Go in West Virginia
Though West Virginia is not one of the states bound by 7-year state law, a 7-year lookback period is typical for most background checks.5
There is a specific process that must be followed to secure a West Virginia Background Check, so be sure to consult the resources and information in this article to search criminal files and obey 2022 laws in obtaining a background check, in West Virginia.