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West Virginia Public Records

The West Virginia Freedom of Information Act, found in Chapter 29B, Article 1 of the West Virginia Code of Laws, states that every person has a right to inspect or copy any public record of a public body in the state, except as otherwise expressly provided. A public record is classified as writing containing information relating to the conduct of the business of the public. Examples include cards, papers, books, photographs, maps, and recordings.

Exceptions to publicly available information include trade secrets, information of a personal nature, test questions & scoring keys, investigation files, records relating to undeveloped archaeological sites, and emergency scenario plans & security measures.

Look below to find popular and useful statewide databases.  Look to the side margin for tools that enable you to access other resources, such as city and county databases.

  • Court System - The West Virginia court system has four levels. At the first level are the Municipal Courts, which are responsible only for city ordinance violations. At the second level are Magistrate Courts, which handle misdemeanors and civil cases of $5,000 or less. Also on this level are Family Courts, responsible for matters regarding children, parents, and spouses. Third are the Circuit Courts, the trial courts of general jurisdiction that handle civil cases over $300, misdemeanors, and felonies. At the top is the Supreme Court of Appeals, a single court that handles all appeals from lower courts.  West Virginia Court Records
  • Criminal Records - Felony cases are the responsibility of the Circuit Courts. The Magistrate Courts or the Circuit Courts may handle misdemeanors. For information about ordering official searches and doing online research, go to our West Virginia Criminal Records page.
  • Vital Records - Birth, death, marriage & divorce certificates are provided by: Vital Registration, West Virginia Division of Health, 350 Capitol St, Rm 165, Charleston, WV 25301-3701, (304) 558-2931, Info: (304) 558-2931, Fax: (304) 558-1051.  West Virginia has restrictions on who can order vital records.  For details, see our Vital Records page.  Also there you'll find statewide historical birth records; birth record databases from available counties; the Social Security Death Index for West Virginia; historical statewide death indexes; death, cemetery, and obituary records from available counties; historical statewide marriages; and marriage databases from available counties.

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