When someone runs into trouble with the legal system, they benefit from due process after an arrest. A defendant will appear in a West Virginia court and have a right to a defense and jury trial. Even so, the chances of a conviction loom, and those chances could be significant depending on the particulars of the case. A conviction brings more than immediate punitive actions, as a criminal record might cause trouble for someone for the rest of their life.
A criminal record’s shadow
Recent movements related to criminal justice reform work to help persons trying to overcome their past troubles with the law. In September 2023, the Small Business Administration proposed rule changes that would remove criminal record restrictions in specific federal lending programs, including ones related to guaranteed business and disaster loans.
While such news may appear positive to someone with a criminal record, there are other issues the person could continue to face. Someone with a criminal record might face discrimination in hiring and additional troubles. Landlords may discriminate when they see a criminal record on a background check. Social stigmas could cause problems with friends and relatives. These reasons and more might lead someone accused of a crime to fight to prove their innocence.
Fighting criminal charges
While limited paths to expunging criminal records may exist for expunging criminal records in West Virginia, many convicted felons would not be eligible. Non-violent felons may pursue this option. Low-level offenders may seek deals for diversionary programs to potentially eliminate a record of a criminal conviction as their criminal defense strategy.
Guilt in criminal proceedings requires proving guilt by a reasonable doubt and presenting legally obtained evidence. Raising sufficient doubt or establishing evidence is inadmissible might result in an acquittal.