Pardons, Reprieves, Commutations and Respites

The Governor has the authority to grant most reprieves and pardons. For information on how to obtain a pardon, reprieve, commutation or respite, please contact the Governor’s office at (304) 558-2000. For information about whether such a document is on file, please contact the Secretary of State’s Office at or (304) 558-6000.

How Do These Releases Differ?

As in most states, the Governor has the authority to alter the sentence of a person who has been convicted under state law during that person's incarceration in a state, regional or county detention facility, after they have been released on parole, or even after the sentence has been served completely.

In West Virginia, the authority is established in the Constitution, Article VII, Section 11:

"The Governor shall have power to remit fines and penalties in such cases and under such regulations as may be prescribed by law; to commute capital punishment and, except where the prosecution has been carried on by the house of delegates, to grant reprieves and pardons after conviction; but he shall communicate to the legislature at each session the particulars of every case of fine or penalty remitted, of punishment commuted and of reprieve or pardon granted, with his reasons therefor."

Different orders are used, depending on the specific effect on the sentence which is intended. These documents are permanently recorded with the Secretary of State and entered into the Executive Journal.

Select an order below for more information:

Related Laws

Several sections of West Virginia Code (§5-1-16a, §62-12-13, §28-5-27) refer to pardons and other clemency orders.

The law relating to the "expungement" of a criminal record following a pardon, which essentially serves to make confidential any court records relating to an individual's conviction in a case, has been the subject of debate. However, West Virginia law still allows persons who receive a full and complete pardon to apply to the courts for expungement of the record.

To search other parts of the Code, visit the Legislature's web site and select WV Code.

If we may be of any further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us:  304.558.6000   toll free 866.767.8683  email: