In 1861, fifty counties located in the Northwest part of Virginia separated and formed the state of West Virginia to later join the union in 1863, one of only two states to join the Union during the civil war and one of four connecting to the Mason-Dixon line. The state’s population grew from just over 55,000 residents in the late 1700’s to nearly 2 million based on the most recent estimates. West Virginia has experienced a declining population with more than half of its residents relocating. Much of West Virginia’s economy had relied on its coal production since 1742, which today still contributes over 3 billion dollars annually. A switch to other forms of energy such as biodiesel and other chemicals have been in effect and serves as a major research center for alternative fuels. Bureau of Labor Statics has non-government civilian labor force at just under 800 thousand.
West Virginia is governed by a three branch system which includes the executive, judicial and legislative. Legislature is comprised of 34 Senate members serving four year terms with elections every 2 years for each half of its members and lead by a president, president pro tem, 2 majority and 2 minority leaders. The House of Delegates make up the rest of the state's legislative body with one hundred members, each serving 2 year terms lead by a speaker of the house, speaker pro tem, majority and minority leaders, whips and their assistants. State elected officials are the Governor, State Auditor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and the state Treasurer. The Judicial branch contains the state's Supreme court, courts of Appeals and clerk's office. The executive branch is comprised of West Virginia's agencies. State level agencies include law enforcement, record keeping and other administrative departments.
The state’s capital is Charleston, the largest city in West Virginia with over 50,000 residents in approximately 32 square miles and the location of the state capitol building since 1877 occupying 16 acres. 34 senators and 100 delegates gather at the Capitol to pass new proposed laws, amend or eliminate bills through a state mandated process.
West Virginia municipal courts have jurisdiction to hear cases that involve traffic, miscellaneous minor violations, exclusive jurisdiction for parking violations and ordinance violations.
Circuit courts have jurisdiction over torts, contracts, and real property rights from $300 and up, exclusive mental health, estate, and civil appeals jurisdiction, domestic relations matters, misdemeanors, and traffic matters. Circuit criminal courts have exclusive felony, and criminal appeals jurisdiction, and exclusive juvenile jurisdiction. Jury trials are available in these courts.
Magistrate courts have jurisdiction to hear torts, contracts, real property rights from $0 to $5,000, misdemeanors, DWI or DUI, domestic, violence matters, traffic violations and courts hold venue to preliminary hearings. Jury trials are available in magistrate courts.
Family courts are made up of 26 circuits, 35 judges, and hear domestic relations matters, including domestic violence with available jury trials.
The supreme court is the highest court in the state and has no mandatory jurisdiction. All cases are heard by discretion of the court. Discretionary jurisdiction in civil, non-capital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile,disciplinary, certified questions from federal courts, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.
Search for felony or misdemeanor criminal charges by requesting records from the West Virginia state repository.
- West Virginia Criminal Records
Request criminal and crash reports from the West Virginia state police.
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Pittsburgh Office
View list of West Virginia regional offices to assist with criminal background checks.
- West Virginia Inmates and offender Search
Find the location and release information of individuals incarcerated with the WV Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority.
- West Virginia Sex Offenders
Search the WV State Police database of registered offenders by name or location.
- West Virginia Most Wanted
Current posting of fugitives and absconders from the WV State Police.
West Virginia Police and Law Enforcement Agency Directory.
- West Virginia State Police
Law enforcement, traffic, criminal investigations and more
- West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Licenses, permits, information and more
- West Virginia Attorney General
Civil, criminal and appellate courts
- West Virginia Division of Criminal Justice Services
Law enforcement training, management, programs and more
- West Virginia County Sheriff Criminal Reports