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§16-5-28. Copies from the system of vital statistics.

In accordance with section twenty-seven of this article and the legislative rules promulgated thereunder:

(a) The State Registrar and other custodians of vital records authorized to issue certified copies shall upon receipt of an application, issue a certified copy of a vital record in his or her custody to the registrant, his or her parents, spouse, adult children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, legal guardian, or their respective authorized representative. Others may be authorized to obtain certified copies when they demonstrate that the record is needed for the determination or protection of his or her personal or property right. The department may promulgate rules to further define others who may obtain copies of vital records filed under this article.

(b) All forms and procedures used in the issuance of certified copies of vital records in the state shall be approved by the state Registrar. All certified copies of certificates of birth issued shall have security features that deter the document from being altered, counterfeited, duplicated or simulated without ready detection in compliance with regulations issued by the federal government.

(c) Each copy or abstract issued shall show the date of registration, and copies or abstracts issued from records marked "Amended" shall be similarly marked and, when possible, show the effective date of the amendment. Copies issued from records marked "Delayed" shall be similarly marked and shall include the date of registration and a description of the evidence used to establish the delayed certificate. Any copy issued of a "Certificate of Foreign Birth" shall indicate the foreign birth and show the actual place of birth and the statement that the certificate is not proof of United States citizenship for the person for whom it is issued.

(d) A certified copy of a vital record issued in accordance with this section shall be considered for all purposes the same as the original, and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts stated in the record: Provided, That the evidentiary value of a certificate or record filed more than one year after the event, or a record which has been amended, or a certificate of foreign birth, shall be determined by the judicial or administrative body or official before whom the certificate is offered as evidence.

(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to permit disclosure of information contained in the "Information for Medical and Health Use Only" section of the certificate of birth or the "Information for Statistical Purposes Only" section of the certificate of marriage or certificate of divorce or annulment unless specifically authorized by the state Registrar for statistical or research purposes. This information is not subject to subpoena or court order and is not admissible before any court, tribunal, or judicial body. Information collected for administrative use may not be included on certified copies of records, and may be disclosed only for administrative, statistical, or research purposes authorized by state or federal law and legislative rule.

(f) When the state Registrar receives information that a certificate may have been registered through fraud or misrepresentation, he or she may withhold issuance of any copy of that certificate.

(1) The State Registrar shall inform the registrant or the registrant's authorized representative of the right to request a hearing by the commissioner.

(2) The secretary of the department may authorize the state Registrar or another person to hold an investigation or hearing to determine if fraud or misrepresentation has occurred.

(3) If upon conclusion of a hearing or investigation no fraud or misrepresentation is found, copies may be issued.

(4) If fraud or misrepresentation is found by a preponderance of the evidence, the state Registrar shall remove the certificate from the file. The certificate and evidence will be retained but will not be subject to inspection or copying except upon order of a court of competent jurisdiction or by the state Registrar for purposes of prosecution or administration of the system of vital statistics.

(g) No person may prepare or issue any certificate which purports to be an original, certified copy, or copy of a vital record, except as authorized by this article, or by legislative rule.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2020 Regular Session
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