My question involves criminal records for the state of: West Virginia
I've done a lot of legwork on my own about this, but can't come up with a clear answer. Can you guys help me out? I need to know because I am applying to graduate schools soon and I want to be totally straight about my history. Thanks in advance.
Note: West Virginia has no lower classification than misdemeanor. No civil infraction, ordinance violation, etc.
Was pulled over for speeding, the officer cited me for driving on a "suspended license non-DUI" because I didn't pay some kind of administrative late fee to the DMV on a previous speeding ticket a while back so my license was suspended. He wrote both charges on the same ticket and let me go, no arrest. Pleaded no contest without trial(a mistake) and just paid the fine - $150 for each violation. Asked the judge he said he would consider driving on suspended a minor traffic violation.
I checked the state code, it's a misdemeanor (first offense no jail time) so I thought it would definitely show up but then again everything that isn't a felony is a misdemeanor EVEN speeding and running stop signs according to the WV state code.
I asked a city police officer when I filed a report for a stolen wallet about, whether then, every person in WV who ever got a traffic ticket now carries a criminal record. He said driving on suspended wouldn't show up because it wasn't a "criminal charge" the reasoning being there was no "criminal intent" in involved in the act. I thought this was case closed, but then asked him what defined criminal charge, who says what is criminal intent and what's not, etc, and he couldn't give me a straight answer so I think he was just giving me his opinion and not the facts.
Decided to ask state police, they said anything generally wouldn't show up on a criminal record in WV unless you were arrested and processed/fingerprinted, which I wasn't I was only given a ticket/citation. Made sense, but did some research and figured out that a citation and arrest have no real distinction - a citation is your arrest, just that you aren't physically handcuffed and instead sign a document saying you will report to court in lieu of any kind of bail setting.
Finally ran a background check with a pretty reputable place that I know a couple schools use: www.certifiedbackground.com.
Check turned up nothing. I know I'm being a little paranoid here, but the stakes for screwing this up are huge. A single employer interpreting my answers as not being honest and denying me a job isn't quite the same as being denied from getting into grad school at all - which in that case my entire career would be in the tank.
So, how do you guys think I should answer these questions:
Have you ever been convicted of a crime?
Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony besides a minor traffic violation?
Do you think I have a criminal history?