West Virginia

Eyewitness Identification Reform

West Virginia law requires that all law enforcement agencies have a written policy guiding eyewitness identification protocols. It also suggests that all lineups a should be conducted using blind administration, sequential presentation, witness instructions, confidence statements, appropriate filler photo usage, recordation (written/video) of the entire procedure, and that show-ups be performed only in exigent circumstances (using live or photo lineup). Law enforcement agencies covering more than two-thirds of the state’s population have adopted policies that comport with the law’s recommended scientifically-supported best practices. Effective: 2007; Amended most recently: 2013.

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List of West Virginia law enforcement agencies in compliance

Recording of Interrogations

West Virginia has no state law requiring recorded interrogations.

Post Conviction DNA Testing

A person convicted of a felony currently serving a term of imprisonment may file a motion for post-conviction DNA testing at any time. Effective: 2004.

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Evidence Preservation

West Virginia has no state law requiring preservation of evidence.

Exoneree Compensation

A wrongfully convicted person may be awarded “a sum of money as the court determines will fairly and reasonably compensate the claimant based upon the sufficiency of the claimant’s proof at trial.” There is a two-year time limit for filing compensation claims. In 2020, the law was amended to remove a requirement that another person must be subsequently convicted of the same crime in order for the claimant to qualify for compensation, and to remove a bar to eligibility for those who falsely confessed or pleaded guilty. Effective: 1987; Amended most recently: 2020.

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Changes in Science

In 2021, West Virginia passed a law creating an avenue for people to present new forensic or scientific evidence that provides a reasonable probability of a different result at trial. The law clarifies that this new evidence includes evidence that was not available at the time of trial, or which undermines forensic scientific evidence relied upon by the state at trial. Effective: July 2021.

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