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Email: Chapter 2, Article 2, Section 10

§2-2-10. Rules for construction of statutes.

(a) The following terms are defined for this code:

(1) "Convict" means a person confined in a penitentiary or correctional facility of this or any other state, or of the United States;

(2) "County court" includes any existing tribunal created in lieu of a county commission; the words "commissioner of the county court" and "county commissioner" mean, and have reference to, the commissioners, or one of them, composing a county commission in pursuance of section nine, article IX of the Constitution, as amended, or any existing tribunal created in lieu of a county commission;

(3) "The Governor" is equivalent to "the executive of the state" or "the person having the executive power";

(4) "Judgment" includes decrees and orders for the payment of money, or the conveyance or delivery of land or personal property, or some interest therein, or any undertaking, bond or recognizance which has the legal effect of a judgment;

(5) "Land" or "lands" and the words "real estate" or "real property" include lands, tenements and hereditaments, all rights thereto and interests therein, except chattel interests;

(6) "Laws of the state" includes the Constitution of the State of West Virginia and the Constitution of the United States, and treaties and laws made in pursuance thereof;

(7) "Minor" mean persons under the age of 18 years;

(8) "Offense" includes every act or omission for which a fine, forfeiture, or punishment is imposed by law;

(9) "Person" or "whoever" includes corporations, societies, associations and partnerships, and other similar legal business organizations;

(10) "Personal estate" or "personal property" includes goods, chattels, real and personal, money, credits, investments, and the evidences thereof;

 (11) "Property" or "estate" embraces both real and personal estate;

(12) "Railroad" and "railway" mean the same thing in law; and, in any proceeding in which a railroad company or a railway company is a party, it is not an error to call a railroad company a railway company or vice versa; nor may any demurrer, plea or any other defense be set up to a motion, pleading, or indictment in consequence of the misdescription;

(13) "State", when applied to a part of the United States and not restricted by the context, includes the District of Columbia and the several territories, and the words "United States" also include the said district and territories;

(14) "Town" includes a city, village or town, and the word "council", any body or board, whether composed of one or more branches, which is authorized to make ordinances for the government of a city, town, or village;

(15) "Written" or "in writing" includes any representation of words, letters, or figures, whether by printing, engraving, writing, or otherwise. But when the signature of any person is required, it must be in his or her own proper handwriting, or his or her mark, attested, proved, or acknowledged. Unless a provision of this code specifically provides otherwise, an electronic signature satisfies this signature requirement if the electronic signature meets the requirements of §39A-1-2 of this code;

(b) The following rules shall be observed in the construction of statutes unless a different intent on the part of the Legislature is expressed:

(1) A word importing the singular number only may be applied to several persons or things, as well as to one person or thing; a word importing the plural number only may be applied to one person or thing as well as to several; and a word importing the masculine gender only may be applied to females as well as males;

(2) Words purporting to give joint authority to three or more persons confers authority upon a majority of them, and not upon any less number;

(3) The sectional headings or headlines of the several sections of this code printed in black-faced type are intended as mere catchwords to indicate the contents of the section and are not titles of the sections, or any part of the statute, and, unless expressly so provided, they are not part of the statute when the sections, including the headlines, are amended or reenacted;

(4) When a council of a town, city, or village, or any board, number of persons, or corporations, are authorized to make ordinances, bylaws, rules, regulations, or orders, the same must be consistent with the laws of this state;

(5) An officer has qualified when he or she has done all that is required by law to be done before proceeding to exercise the authority and discharge the duties of his or her office;

(6) A statute is presumed to be prospective in its operation unless expressly made retrospective;

(7) Unless there is a provision in a section, article, or chapter of this code specifying that its provisions are not severable, the provisions of every section, article, or chapter of this code, whether enacted before or subsequent to the effective date of this subdivision, are severable so that if any provision of any section, article, or chapter is held to be unconstitutional or void, the remaining provisions of the section, article, or chapter remain valid, unless the court finds the valid provisions are so essentially and inseparably connected with, and so dependent upon, the unconstitutional or void provision that the court cannot presume the Legislature would have enacted the remaining valid provisions without the unconstitutional or void one, or unless the court finds the remaining valid provisions, standing alone, are incomplete and are incapable of being executed in accordance with the legislative intent. The provisions of this subdivision are fully applicable to all future amendments or additions to this code, with like effect as if the provisions of this subdivision were set forth in extenso in every amendment or addition and were reenacted as a part thereof;

(8) A reference to any section, article, or chapter of this code applies to all reenactments, revisions, or amendments thereof;

(9) If a statute refers to a series of numbers or letters, the first and the last numbers or letters in the series are considered to be included;

(10) No legislative enactment of a regulatory, noncriminal nature may be construed to prohibit a lawful business or business structure in existence and operating in this state prior to the effective date of the enactment of legislation prohibiting the operation of such business or business structure absent an express legislative declaration in the enactment that the existing business or business structure is prohibited from continuing after the effective date of the enactment.

(11) Statutes are construed to avoid absurd results;

(12) Statutes are to be read as a whole, in context, and, if possible, the court is to give effect to every word of the statute; and

(13) When two or more bills amending the same statute are passed during the same session of the Legislature, the form of the statute in the enrolled bill passed latest in time shall control.