Dean v. Skeen

In Dean v. Skeen, 137 W. Va. 105, 70 S.E.2d 256 (1952), the Court was asked to determine whether a conviction which had been the subject of an unconditional pardon by the Governor of West Virginia could be considered for purposes of imposing increased punishment under the habitual offender statute. The Court relied on State v. Fisher, 123 W. Va. 745, 18 S.E.2d 649 (1941) and State ex rel. Coole v. Sims, 133 W. Va. 619, 58 S.E.2d 784 (1950) and interpreted those cases as establishing the view that "an unconditional pardon of a prior offense does not serve to destroy the historical effect of the conviction thereof." Dean at 108, 70 S.E.2d at 257. The Dean Court then observed that the majority of jurisdictions agreed that "'the fact that an accused was pardoned for his or her prior offense does not exempt him or her from the increased punishment on a subsequent conviction.'" Id. at 109, 70 S.E.2d at 258 (quoting 24 C.J.S., Criminal Law, 1960(h)). Following this authority, the Dean Court held, in relevant part, that "in a criminal prosecution for a felony, a pardon by the Governor of this State of a conviction or convictions for an offense or offenses punishable by confinement in the penitentiary, does not exempt the prisoner from increased punishment under the habitual criminal statute . . . ." Syl. pt. 1. Thus, it has been plainly established in West Virginia that an unconditional pardon by the Governor does not prevent consideration of the conviction when applying an habitual offender law.