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Justice signs the Second Chance for Employment Act

By ANDREA LANNOM

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — Gov. Jim Justice has signed the Second Chance for Employment Act, which would allow people convicted of nonviolent felonies to petition a judge to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor.

The West Virginia Legislature passed Senate Bill 76 with time down to the wire. It was the last bill the House passed the last official night of session, passing the measure at 12:54 Sunday morning. The bill’s goal is to improve employment possibilities for those convicted of nonviolent felonies.

The bill allows a person convicted of a nonviolent felony to petition the circuit judge to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor after meeting certain qualifications such as not violating the law for 10 years.

If the judge sets the issue for hearing, all interested parties who filed notice of opposition shall be notified and the judge can hear testimony of witnesses and evidence of any other matter related to the petition.

If the judge grants that request and reduces the charge, that misdemeanor charge could not be expunged.

The passed bill marks a change from the original version, which called for a nonviolent felony offense to be expunged upon the judge granting the petition.

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