Find West Virginia Public Records (Free, Quick & Easy)

Free West Virginia Records Page Search
Access West Virginia Records: warrants, divorce and marriage, arrests, driver's license, and all public records.

West Virginia has public records available for use by individuals and entities at the county and state levels. However, with different ways to access public records and state laws, it can be confusing to find what is needed.

Our goal is to make it free, quick, and easy to find West Virginia public records by including all relevant information in one place so the public can access various types of records.

Public Record Laws of West Virginia

There are public record laws in West Virginia that determine who can see information on another person and how they can attain this information. According to West Virginia Code 29B-1-1, it is the public policy of the State of West Virginia that all persons, unless prohibited by law, are entitled to complete information regarding governmental affairs and official acts of those who act as an extension of the government through public officials or employees.

Furthermore, the West Virginia Code Freedom of Information 29B-1-3, this code states that every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in the state.

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to public record requests and public record law in West Virginia is that it depends on if consent is given. If a person gives consent for record requests conducted for professional reasons, it can go forward. If a person does not give consent for requests for professional reasons, it is NOT legal.

Therefore, the person doing the search must conduct the search for personal reasons for it to be legally allowed without the individual’s consent. There is also the alternative that individuals looking for a person’s information can use a search service. In this case, a paid search service is much more beneficial than free searches.

Individuals who are curious about conducting a personal search must know where to find the person’s information and documents through the appropriate type of government agency, the correct jurisdiction, the type of jail, and the type of court. Otherwise, they can use paid professional services for quicker turnaround times and more reliable results.

Criminal Records: WV (West Virginia)

Criminal records in West Virginia can be used by any individual or corporation to find out more about a person’s past, such as the following:

  • Criminal history (i.e., fingerprints, mugshots, past convictions, sentences, and length)
  • Name
  • Weight
  • Height
  • Eye color, and
  • Personal information1

It is possible to find public criminal records in West Virginia using both online methods, such as a third-party private website or online directory, and offline methods, such as visiting the law enforcement agency or the county courthouse.

Criminal records in West Virginia are helpful to find out more about a specific person, whether out of curiosity or for screening purposes (ex: searching for an apartment tenant, job interview, government position, etc.).

Are West Virginia Criminal Records Available to Anyone?

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws that ensures the public has access to West Virginia public records of governing bodies at the county and state levels in West Virginia.2 Any person can look up someone’s criminal record without a statement of purpose as to why they require the records. Furthermore, there are no restrictions on how the person in question uses the records.

However, when it comes to private individuals, there are laws regarding who can obtain the information and how they can use it. The West Virginia Code 15-2-24 states that all requests for West Virginia public records under the provisions of this subsection must be accompanied by, written, authorized, signed, and acknowledged by the person whose fingerprints, photographs, and information is sought.

How to Check if Someone Has a Criminal History in Virginia

Individuals can find out if someone has a criminal record in West Virginia through online and offline means, with both methods relatively inexpensive and providing thorough information.

Online

Individuals can check if someone has a criminal history in West Virginia by visiting the L1 website. Individuals can then make appointments with IdentoGo at the website or call the toll-free number listed on their website.

Screenshot showing criminal records can be requested through the Identity History Check service by scheduling an appointment.
Source: IdentoGO12

If the interested party does not give someone consent to use their fingerprints, photographs, or personal information, the person doing the searching can still conduct the background check for personal reasons.

Offline

For those who are interested in finding West Virginia public records for an individual through offline methods, they should do the following:

  1. Choose the county of interest and enter ‘‘West Virginia (county name) county clerk’’ in a search engine
  2. Choose the official website for the county clerk and click the link
  3. Choose ‘‘Records’’ under the Menu bar
  4. Choose the type of record (ex: Vital Records Search vs. Records Search)
  5. Enter the date range of interests and the person’s first and last name

Another way to find a person’s criminal history specifically is to use the state-level website.

  1. Visit the West Virginia State Police website
  2. Click on ‘‘Criminal Records”
  3. Call the number to request the specific records
The West Virginia State Police website where criminal records can be obtained.
Source: WV State Police13

If individuals are curious about how to find more details on each (ex: arrest records, court records, and background checks), they can find more details below. There are different types of background checks for certain employers and others for licenses by the Board of Medicine.

Can the Public See a Juvenile’s Criminal History in West Virginia?

Juvenile records are not available to the public in West Virginia.

Records and information concerning a child or juvenile maintained by the Bureau of Juvenile Services, the Department of Health and Human Services, a child agency, a court, or law enforcement agency are kept confidential and shall not be released or disclosed to anyone, including a federal or state agency except as provided by the law W. Va. Code 49-5-101, Rule 49.

Free West Virginia Warrant Check

Although crime history is made accessible to the public under the Freedom of Information Act in West Virginia, individuals can only access a person’s warrant details with consent from the subject.

Therefore, they must make an appointment through the state-endorsed Identogo website or walk into the state police precinct or magistrate court in the local area. The individual doing the search can also access civil court dockets, WV arrest records, and warrants for an additional fee. The most effective way to find a person’s warrants is by using the state police, who can provide a person with a warrant out issues, arrest records, and conviction details.4

The other option is to look online for outstanding warrants through sheriff’s department websites.5

How Do I Check for Sex Offenders Near Me (WV)?

West Virginia requires sex offenders to register with the state to protect other residents in the area. The Sex Offenses Act requires the West Virginia Police Department to create and maintain a website available to the public that contains sex offender information.6

Sex offenders must provide information such as their personal characteristics (ex: sex, age, height, weight), passport photo, fingerprints, vehicle registration, residence, employment information, and social media account details) after their release.

The Sex Offender Registration Act provides sex offender information to the public. Individuals can check for sex offenders in their local area by completing the following steps:

  1. Visit the West Virginia State Police website
  2. Click on ‘‘Sex Offender’’ in the top dashboard
  3. On this page, enter the name of the potential or proven sex offender
The WV sex offender registry that can be searched by first name, last name, neighborhood and more.
Source: West Virginia State Police14

The Ins & Outs of West Virginia Background Checks

There are different types of West Virginia Background checks that can provide individuals with information regarding another person.

County Clerk Search

The first type of background check is a county clerk search that can help provide basic information to a searcher. The county clerk search aims to check West Virginia public records and vital records (does not include expunged or sealed court records). The County clerk can provide important information for a specific person, such as the following:

  • Tax liens
  • Voter registration
  • Business license search
  • Military discharge3
  • Deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Property address lookup
  • Wills
  • Leases
  • Notaries
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Death certificate
  • And more

Criminal Background Check (State Level)

Conducting a criminal background check at the state level is helpful for those who do not know which county the crime occurred in.

  1. Visit the West Virginia State Police website
  2. Click on ‘‘Criminal Records’
  3. Call the contact number to request specific records

Fingerprint-Based FBI Background Check

The next type of background check possible in West Virginia is the fingerprint background check, which uses a third-party service to obtain and process fingerprints.7

  1. Visit the IdentoGo website
  2. Select ‘‘Get Fingerprinted’’
  3. Click on ‘‘Select Fingerprinting Service by State’’
  4. Click on ‘‘West Virginia”
  5. Select ‘‘Digital Fingerprinting’’
  6. Enter the Service Code provided by the employment agency
  7. Click on ‘‘Appointment’’
  8. Enter the information to create an appointment
  9. Bring the documentation to the appointment and pay at the IdentoGo location

West Virginia (WV) Court Records Explained

West Virginia court records are broken down into different systems that handle cases.8

Circuit Courts — West Virginia Circuit Courts handle civil and criminal cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of other courts in the state, including felonies, misdemeanors, civil claims with over $300 in dispute, probate matters, juvenile delinquency, child abuse cases, and Family Protective Orders.

Magistrate courts — West Virginia Magistrate Courts handle certain types of civil and criminal cases, including municipal ordinance violations, preliminary hearings for all types of crimes, landlord-tenant disputes, and civil claims of less than $5000 in dispute.

A screenshot of West Virginia courts on a county map where individuals can request free divorce records and other court records.

Source: West Virginia Judiciary15

Family Courts — The family court has jurisdiction over domestic relations, guardianships, and domestic violence protection cases.

Municipal Courts — Municipal courts have jurisdiction over municipal ordinance violations.

The West Virginia Freedom of Information ensures that all records are public and available to both individuals and entities, except for those exempt from public disclosure.

Most court records in West Virginia have documents regarding a civil and criminal case and the trial from beginning to end, including the court verdict. Those who wish to find court records, but wish to remain anonymous, can do so by phone or mail by contacting the clerk of the court or forwarding a written request to the courthouse and county.

Most West Virginia court records will contain the case files, court transcripts, records, witness testimonies, witness documentation, court dockets, sentencing, and judgment.

How to Find Someone’s Court Records & Court Cases in West Virginia

Individuals can find court records in West Virginia by following these steps:

  1. Find the local courthouse — Identify the local courthouse in which the case was held. Individuals can use the West Virginia Judiciary website to find the specific court and use their contact information to obtain them.
  2. Use the county map — Individuals can use the county map to identify the court location and the level of court keeping the records. Individuals can use the county map to find the courthouse and contact information, such as the address and court judges’ names.
  3. Contact the clerk and provide the case number or the name
    • Or send a request in via mail to the courthouse and county (including requestor names, addresses, case number, phone number, and proof of payment)

How See People Who Filed Bankruptcy in West Virginia

Individuals can see people who filed for bankruptcy in West Virginia through PACER since bankruptcy claims are under federal jurisdiction.

Furthermore, individuals can visit the Archives website to find closed bankruptcy cases.

For a state-specific search, individuals can use the McVCIS to access court bankruptcy records. Furthermore, they can make an in-person request at one of the local county clerk’s offices and pay via the WVNB Payment Form. In addition, individuals can view bankruptcy records at public access terminals without having to pay a fee of $.50 per page (through the Case Management and Electronic Case File website).

The bankruptcy records for West Virginia include liens, judgments, contracts, and foreclosure documents.

Locating Inmates & Obtaining Inmate Records in WV

Individuals may find it necessary to locate inmates or find inmate records if they are unsure about a person in their life and their own safety, such as a work colleague, partner, or friend.

Inmate records contain the type, degree of offense, date of admission, court information, sentence status, custody classification, inmate type, good/bad behavior consequences, and more.

Individuals can find inmate records by visiting the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation website to identify incarcerations by county or regional jails. Individuals can search using the offender’s name, case number, and identifying information.

Learn How to Find Someone in a Local West Virginia Jail

The broadest way to find out if someone is in a local West Virginia jail is to use the county system — and municipal or city jails ran by local police departments is the next best place to look if a county search yields no results.

Most jail inmates can be found through county websites or contact information. County jails are typically run by the sheriff’s office. Individuals can find out how to get jail paperwork and identify inmates in a local West Virginia jail by using the county-level website:

  1. Use a search engine and type in ‘‘West Virginia (County Name) Sheriff’s Office’’ ex: Kanawha County
  2. Click the link to visit the website

Note, our guide on West Virginia arrests and criminal records contains county inmate rosters for every WV county so you don’t have to search the web for an official site and it also contains many other custodians that can assist with criminal history searches.

Individuals can also use the city jails to find someone in West Virginia. Some city jails have their own lookup tool, whereas others may simply have police department contact information. In this case, individuals can do the following:

  1. Find the specific city jail or correctional facility in which the person is held by using the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation site
  2. Click on ‘Facilities’ (ex: Salem Correctional Center and Jail)
  3. Use the contact information to call the jail

Lastly, searchers can use the regional jail system to find someone in West Virginia. These jails are operated by multiple jurisdictions or agencies.

  1. Visit the West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority website
  2. Enter the first (optional) and last name of the person in question

Where Can I Find Mugshots of Recent Arrests in West Virginia (WV)?

Individuals can find recent arrests and mugshots in West Virginia by visiting the Daily Incarcerations page on the West Virginia Regional Jail & Correctional Facility Authority Website. All they have to do is input the county from the dropdown menu and click on ‘‘Search’’.

Searchers can also find the specific county in which a person was arrested (ex: Kanawha County) and use social media pages like Facebook to find updated mugshots on recent arrests.

How Do I Find a Prisoner in State or Federal Penitentiaries?

Searchers can find federal inmates by using the Bureau of Prisons website.

State inmates can be found by using the Department of Justice website.

State inmates can also be found by using the USA Gov website and selecting West Virginia in the dropdown menu.

Individuals only need to know the person’s name to input information and find the prisoner, inmate (including inmate release date), or sex offender. These websites make it possible to find an inmate, plan to visit an inmate or send money to inmates.

An Overview of West Virginia Vital Records

The Vital Registration Office is West Virginia Virginia’s public records repository of birth, death (including fetal deaths and termination of pregnancy), marriage, and divorce records, and can provide a certified copy of these records for a fee to individuals.9

Can Any Citizen View West Virginia Vital Records?

Individuals can view West Virginia vital records for a fee by contacting the Vital Registration Office. Users can search the records and view scanned images of the original records by utilizing the West Virginia Archives & History.10 To obtain certified copies, individuals must contact the issuing country or the West Virginia Vital Registration Office.

Free Marriage & Divorce Checker: What’s the Best Way to See if Someone is Married or Divorced in WV?

Are marriage records public? In West Virginia, yes. Individuals can find out if someone is married, obtain a marriage certificate, view public divorce records, and obtain a divorce certificate.

The divorced population in West Virginia ranges from 10-20% depending on the county and the percent of people married are even higher. To illustrate just how many divorce records are available, the following image based off of Census Data shows the percentage of people divorced in every West Virginia county.

A map showing the divorce population (5-year estimates) of all counties in West Virginia.
Source: The Census Bureau

Individuals can contact the Vital Registration Office to obtain marriage or divorce certificates. A death certificate costs $12 through check or money order payable to Vital REgistration and includes records from 1917. A marriage certificate costs $12 and includes certified copies available from 1964 onwards.

Request Copies or Replacements of Death & Birth Certificates in West Virginia

The general public can access death certificates and birth certificates of West Virginia through the mail or online via the Vital Records website.11 West Virginia is not an ‘‘open record’’ state in terms of obtaining vital records, meaning that only the following individual can obtain a birth certificate:

  • The person on the certificate
  • The parents or grandparents of the person
  • The wife or husband
  • The children and grandchildren
  • The brothers or sisters
  • Anyone with a legal interest

These individuals can obtain the records in person, by mail, or by phone/internet. They can visit the office in person for the fastest way to obtain the marriage certificate. However, if they are not in the Charleston area, they can do so via mail, by calling 877-448-3953, or by visiting VitalChek.

The only people who can obtain a death certificate are the following:

  • The parents and grandparents of the person on the certificate
  • The wife or husband
  • The children or grandchildren
  • The brothers or sisters
  • Funeral director
  • Anyone with a legal interest

References

1West Virginia Criminal Records. Criminal.com. Retrieved from <https://criminal.com/records/west-virginia/>

2West Virginia FOIA Laws. (n.d.)  National Freedom of Information Coalition. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://www.nfoic.org/west-virginia-foia-laws/>

3Office of Inspector General. (n.d.) (2015). WV CARES. West Virginia Department of Health &amp; Human Resources. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from <https://www.wvdhhr.org/oig/wvcares.html>

4West Virginia Warrant Search. (n.d.) US Warrants. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://www.uswarrants.org/west-virginia>

5West Virginia Outstanding Warrants Search. (n.d.) West Virginia Arrests. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://www.wvarrests.org/west-virginia-outstanding-warrants-search.html>

6How to Search West Virginia Sex Offender Registry. (n.d.) MSO. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://mapsexoffenders.com/west-virginia/>

7Idemia. (2022). IdentoGO. (n.d.) IdentoGO By Idemia. Retrieved May 9, 2022, from <https://www.identogo.com/>

8West Virginia Court Guide. (n.d.) Court Reference. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://www.courtreference.com/West-Virginia-Courts.htm>

9About Vital Registration. (n.d.) Health Statistics Center. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/hsc/vital/aboutvr.asp>

10Vital Records Search. (n.d.)  West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <https://wvculture.org/vital-records-search/>

11West Virginia Birth, Death, Marriage, and Birth Resulting in Stillbirth Certificates. (n.d.)  Health Statistics Center. Retrieved May 28, 2022 from <http://www.wvdhhr.org/bph/hsc/vital/birthcert.asp>

12IdentoGO. Accessed 5 May 2023. <https://uenroll.identogo.com/workflows/111VVQ>

13WV State Police. Accessed 5 May 2023. <https://www.wvsp.gov/>

14West Virginia State Police. Accessed 5 May 2023. <https://apps.wv.gov/StatePolice/SexOffender#Basic>

15West Virginia Judiciary. Accessed 5 May 2023. <http://www.courtswv.gov/public-resources/court-information-by-county.html>