The controversial legislation for SB76 was signed into law on April 25, 2017. Senate Bill 76 allows individuals convicted of non-violent felonies to return to court after 10 years to possibly have their convictions reduced to misdemeanors. The signing of the bill signals West Virginia’s adoption of progressive approaches for restoring the rights of non-violent criminal offenders. SB76 will improve employment opportunities for people with non-violent convictions by introducing a new category called a “reduced misdemeanor.” Charges that fall into this category do not need to be reported on employment applications, but will still be reflected in background investigations. The right to own a firearm can also be restored to qualifying non-violent felons.
Under SB76, criminal records of nonviolent offenders can be expunged depending on the severity of the crimes. Four types of convictions can make you ineligible for expungement:
- Felony crime of violence against another person
- Felony offense where the victim was a minor child
- Felony offense involving the use or exhibition of a firearm
- Felony possession of controlled substance with intent to sell or deliver to a minor
Who Does SB76 Help?
West Virginia is home to about 150,000 felons, roughly 10% of the state’s population. Many of these individuals were caught up in crimes during their youth, but the stigma of a felony conviction follows them well into their adult life. Senate Bill 76 gives these people, many of whom have lost hope finding a career, a second chance. For others, SB76 could possibly restore their citizenship and create new opportunities that weren’t available before, such as the right to own a firearm.
You should speak with one of our criminal defense lawyers if you have a felony conviction for a nonviolent offense. Our team can assess your situation and determine if your charges are eligible for expungement under Senate Bill 76. Despite the bill’s intent, the legal system can be extremely complex and shouldn’t be navigated without the supportive assistance of an experienced attorney. Let us help you today!
Contact our Martinsburg criminal defense lawyers, or call (304) 867-0049 to get started on your case.