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The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 13: Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Chapter 230: EXPUNGEMENT AND SEALING OF CRIMINAL HISTORY RECORDS

  • § 7601. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Court" means the Criminal Division of the Superior Court.

    (2) "Criminal history record" means all information documenting an individual's contact with the criminal justice system, including data regarding identification, arrest or citation, arraignment, judicial disposition, custody, and supervision.

    (3) "Predicate offense" means a criminal offense that can be used to enhance a sentence levied for a later conviction, and includes operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or other substance in violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201, domestic assault in violation of section 1042 of this title, and stalking in violation of section 1062 of this title. "Predicate offense" shall not include misdemeanor possession of marijuana, a disorderly conduct offense under section 1026 of this title, or possession of a controlled substance in violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a), 4231(a), 4232(a), 4233(a), 4234(a), 4234a(a), 4234b(a), 4235(b), or 4235a(a).

    (4) "Qualifying crime" means:

    (A) a misdemeanor offense that is not:

    (i) a listed crime as defined in subdivision 5301(7) of this title;

    (ii) an offense involving sexual exploitation of children in violation of chapter 64 of this title;

    (iii) an offense involving violation of a protection order in violation of section 1030 of this title;

    (iv) prostitution as defined in section 2632 of this title, or prohibited conduct under section 2601a of this title; or

    (v) a predicate offense;

    (B) a violation of subsection 3701(a) of this title related to criminal mischief;

    (C) a violation of section 2501 of this title related to grand larceny;

    (D) a violation of section 1201 of this title related to burglary, excluding any burglary into an occupied dwelling, as defined in subdivision 1201(b)(2) of this title;

    (E) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4223 related to fraud or deceit;

    (F) a violation of section 1802 of this title related to uttering a forged or counterfeited instrument;

    (G) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4230(a) related to possession of marijuana;

    (H) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4231(a) related to possession of cocaine;

    (I) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4232(a) related to possession of LSD;

    (J) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4233(a) related to possession of heroin;

    (K) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4234(a) related to possession of depressant, stimulant, and narcotic drugs;

    (L) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4234a(a) related to possession of methamphetamine;

    (M) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4234b(a) related to possession of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine;

    (N) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4235(b) related to possession of hallucinogenic drugs;

    (O) a violation of 18 V.S.A. § 4235a(a) related to possession of ecstasy; or

    (P) any offense for which a person has been granted an unconditional pardon from the Governor. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2013, No. 76, § 8; 2015, No. 36, § 1, eff. May 26, 2015; 2017, No. 57, § 3; 2017, No. 83, § 161(3); 2019, No. 32, § 2.)

  • § 7602. Expungement and sealing of record, postconviction; procedure

    (a)(1) A person may file a petition with the court requesting expungement or sealing of the criminal history record related to the conviction if:

    (A) the person was convicted of a qualifying crime or qualifying crimes arising out of the same incident or occurrence;

    (B) the person was convicted of an offense for which the underlying conduct is no longer prohibited by law or designated as a criminal offense;

    (C) pursuant to the conditions set forth in subsection (g) of this section, the person was convicted of a violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201(a) related to operating under the influence of alcohol or other substance, excluding a violation of that section resulting in serious bodily injury or death to any person other than the operator, or related to operating a school bus with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 or more or operating a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more; or

    (D) pursuant to the conditions set forth in subsection (h) of this section, the person was convicted under 1201(c)(3)(A) of a violation of subdivision 1201(a) of this title related to burglary when the person was 25 years of age or younger, and the person did not carry a dangerous or deadly weapon during commission of the offense.

    (2) The State's Attorney or Attorney General shall be the respondent in the matter.

    (3) The court shall grant the petition without hearing if the petitioner and the respondent stipulate to the granting of the petition. The respondent shall file the stipulation with the court, and the court shall issue the petitioner an order of expungement and provide notice of the order in accordance with this section.

    (4) This section shall not apply to an individual licensed as a commercial driver pursuant to 23 V.S.A. chapter 39 seeking to seal or expunge a record of a conviction for a felony offense committed in a motor vehicle as defined in 23 V.S.A. § 4.

    (b)(1) The court shall grant the petition and order that the criminal history record be expunged pursuant to section 7606 of this title if the following conditions are met:

    (A) At least five years have elapsed since the date on which the person successfully completed the terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction, or if the person has successfully completed the terms and conditions of an indeterminate term of probation that commenced at least five years previously.

    (B) The person has not been convicted of a crime arising out of a new incident or occurrence since the person was convicted for the qualifying crime.

    (C) Any restitution ordered by the court has been paid in full.

    (D) The court finds that expungement of the criminal history record serves the interests of justice.

    (2) The court shall grant the petition and order that all or part of the criminal history record be sealed pursuant to section 7607 of this title if the conditions of subdivisions (1)(A), (B), and (C) of this subsection are met and the court finds that:

    (A) sealing the criminal history record better serves the interests of justice than expungement; and

    (B) the person committed the qualifying crime after reaching 19 years of age.

    (c)(1) The court shall grant the petition and order that the criminal history record be expunged pursuant to section 7606 of this title if the following conditions are met:

    (A) At least 10 years have elapsed since the date on which the person successfully completed the terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction.

    (B) The person has not been convicted of a felony arising out of a new incident or occurrence in the last seven years.

    (C) The person has not been convicted of a misdemeanor during the past five years.

    (D) Any restitution ordered by the court for any crime of which the person has been convicted has been paid in full.

    (E) After considering the particular nature of any subsequent offense, the court finds that expungement of the criminal history record for the qualifying crime serves the interests of justice.

    (2) The court shall grant the petition and order that all or part of the criminal history record be sealed pursuant to section 7607 of this title if the conditions of subdivisions (1)(A), (B), (C), and (D) of this subsection are met and the court finds that:

    (A) sealing the criminal history record better serves the interests of justice than expungement; and

    (B) the person committed the qualifying crime after reaching 19 years of age.

    (d) For petitions filed pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(B) of this section, unless the court finds that expungement would not be in the interests of justice, the court shall grant the petition and order that the criminal history record be expunged in accordance with section 7606 of this title if the following conditions are met:

    (1) The petitioner has completed any sentence or supervision for the offense.

    (2) Any restitution ordered by the court has been paid in full.

    (e) For petitions filed pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(B) of this section for a conviction for possession of a regulated drug under 18 V.S.A. chapter 84, subchapter 1 in an amount that is no longer prohibited by law or for which criminal sanctions have been removed:

    (1) The petitioner shall bear the burden of establishing that his or her conviction was based on possessing an amount of regulated drug that is no longer prohibited by law or for which criminal sanctions have been removed.

    (2) There shall be a rebuttable presumption that the amount of the regulated drug specified in the affidavit of probable cause associated with the petitioner's conviction was the amount possessed by the petitioner.

    (f) Prior to granting an expungement or sealing under this section for petitions filed pursuant to subdivision 7601(4)(D) of this title, the court shall make a finding that the conduct underlying the conviction under section 1201 of this title did not constitute a burglary into an occupied dwelling, as defined in subdivision 1201(b)(2) of this title. The petitioner shall bear the burden of establishing this fact.

    (g) For petitions filed pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(C) of this section, only petitions to seal may be considered or granted by the court. This subsection shall not apply to an individual licensed as a commercial driver pursuant to 23 V.S.A. chapter 39. Unless the court finds that sealing would not be in the interests of justice, the court shall grant the petition and order that the criminal history record be sealed in accordance with section 7607 of this title if the following conditions are met:

    (1) At least 10 years have elapsed since the date on which the person successfully completed the terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction, or if the person has successfully completed the terms and conditions of an indeterminate term of probation that commenced at least 10 years previously.

    (2) At the time of the filing of the petition:

    (A) the person has only one conviction of a violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201, which shall be construed in accordance with 23 V.S.A. § 1211; and

    (B) the person has not been convicted of a crime arising out of a new incident or occurrence since the person was convicted of a violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201(a).

    (3) Any restitution ordered by the court has been paid in full.

    (4) The court finds that sealing of the criminal history record serves the interests of justice.

    (h) For petitions filed pursuant to subdivision (a)(1)(D) of this section, unless the court finds that expungement or sealing would not be in the interests of justice, the court shall grant the petition and order that the criminal history record be expunged or sealed in accordance with section 7606 or 7607 of this title if the following conditions are met:

    (1) At least 15 years have elapsed since the date on which the person successfully completed the terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction, or the person has successfully completed the terms and conditions of an indeterminate term of probation that commenced at least 15 years previously.

    (2) The person has not been convicted of a crime arising out of a new incident or occurrence since the person was convicted of a violation of subdivision 1201(c)(3)(A) of this title.

    (3) Any restitution ordered by the court has been paid in full.

    (4) The court finds that expungement or sealing of the criminal history record serves the interests of justice. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2015, No. 36, § 2, eff. May 26, 2015; 2017, No. 57, § 4; 2017, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2019, No. 32, § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 2019.)

  • § 7603. Expungement and sealing of record, no conviction; procedure

    (a) Unless either party objects in the interests of justice, the court shall issue an order sealing the criminal history record related to the citation or arrest of a person:

    (1) within 60 days after the final disposition of the case if:

    (A) the court does not make a determination of probable cause at the time of arraignment; or

    (B) the charge is dismissed before trial without prejudice; or

    (2) at any time if the prosecuting attorney and the defendant stipulate that the court may grant the petition to seal the record.

    (b) If a party objects to sealing or expunging a record pursuant to this section, the court shall schedule a hearing to determine if sealing or expunging the record serves the interests of justice. The defendant and the prosecuting attorney shall be the only parties in the matter.

    (c), (d) [Repealed.]

    (e) Unless either party objects in the interests of justice, the court shall issue an order expunging a criminal history record related to the citation or arrest of a person:

    (1) within 60 days after the final disposition of the case if:

    (A) the defendant is acquitted of the charges; or

    (B) the charge is dismissed with prejudice;

    (2) at any time if the prosecuting attorney and the defendant stipulate that the court may grant the petition to expunge the record.

    (f) Unless either party objects in the interests of justice, the court shall issue an order to expunge a record sealed pursuant to subsection (a) or (g) of this section eight years after the date on which the record was sealed.

    (g) A person may file a petition with the court requesting sealing or expungement of a criminal history record related to the citation or arrest of the person at any time. The court shall grant the petition and issue an order sealing or expunging the record if it finds that sealing or expunging the record serves the interests of justice, or if the parties stipulate to sealing or expungement of the record.

    (h) The court may expunge any records that were sealed pursuant to this section prior to July 1, 2018 unless the State's Attorney's office that prosecuted the case objects. Thirty days prior to expunging a record pursuant to this subsection, the court shall provide to the State's Attorney's office that prosecuted the case written notice of its intent to expunge the record. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2017, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2019, No. 32, § 4.)

  • § 7604. New charge

    If a person is charged with a criminal offense after he or she has filed a petition for expungement pursuant to this chapter, the court shall not act on the petition until disposition of the new charge. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 7605. Denial of petition

    If a petition for expungement is denied by the court pursuant to this chapter, no further petition shall be brought for at least two years, unless a shorter duration is authorized by the court. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2017, No. 57, § 5.)

  • § 7606. Effect of expungement

    (a) Order and notice. Upon finding that the requirements for expungement have been met, the court shall issue an order that shall include provisions that its effect is to annul the record of the arrest, conviction, and sentence and that such person shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for the offense. The court shall provide notice of the expungement to the respondent, Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC), the arresting agency, and any other entity that may have a record related to the order to expunge. The VCIC shall provide notice of the expungement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center.

    (b) Effect.

    (1) Upon entry of an expungement order, the order shall be legally effective immediately and the person whose record is expunged shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for the offense.

    (2) In any application for employment, license, or civil right or privilege or in an appearance as a witness in any proceeding or hearing, a person may be required to answer questions about a previous criminal history record only with respect to arrests or convictions that have not been expunged.

    (3) The response to an inquiry from any person regarding an expunged record shall be that "NO CRIMINAL RECORD EXISTS."

    (4) Nothing in this section shall affect any right of the person whose record has been expunged to rely on it as a bar to any subsequent proceedings for the same offense.

    (c) Process.

    (1) The court shall remove the expunged offense from any accessible database that it maintains.

    (2) Until all charges on a docket are expunged, the case file shall remain publicly accessible.

    (3) When all charges on a docket have been expunged, the case file shall be destroyed pursuant to policies established by the Court Administrator.

    (d) Special index.

    (1) The court shall keep a special index of cases that have been expunged together with the expungement order. The index shall list only the name of the person convicted of the offense, his or her date of birth, the docket number, and the criminal offense that was the subject of the expungement.

    (2) The special index and related documents specified in subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be confidential and shall be physically and electronically segregated in a manner that ensures confidentiality and that limits access to authorized persons.

    (3) Inspection of the expungement order may be permitted only upon petition by the person who is the subject of the case. The Chief Superior Judge may permit special access to the index and the documents for research purposes pursuant to the rules for public access to court records.

    (4) [Repealed].

    (5) The Court Administrator shall establish policies for implementing this subsection. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2015, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 2a, eff. May 25, 2016; 2017, No. 57, § 6; 2017, No. 178 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2017, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2019, No. 32, § 5.)

  • § 7607. Effect of sealing

    (a) Order and notice. Upon entry of an order to seal, the order shall be legally effective immediately and the person whose record is sealed shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for the offense and that its effect is to annul the record of arrest, conviction, and sentence. The court shall provide notice of the sealing to the respondent, Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC), the arresting agency, and any other entity that may have a record related to the order to seal. The VCIC shall provide notice of the sealing to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center.

    (b) Effect.

    (1) Except as provided in subdivision (c) of this section, upon entry of a sealing order, the order shall be legally effective immediately and the person whose record is sealed shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for the offense.

    (2) In any application for employment, license, or civil right or privilege or in an appearance as a witness in any proceeding or hearing, a person may be required to answer questions about a previous criminal history record only with respect to arrests or convictions that have not been sealed.

    (3) The response to an inquiry from any member of the public regarding a sealed record shall be that "NO CRIMINAL RECORD EXISTS."

    (c) Exceptions. Notwithstanding any other provision of law or a sealing order:

    (1) An entity that possesses a sealed record may continue to use it for any litigation or claim arising out of the same incident or occurrence or involving the same defendant.

    (2) A criminal justice agency as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a may use the criminal history record sealed in accordance with section 7602 or 7603 of this title without limitation for criminal justice purposes as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a. A sealed record of a prior violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201(a) shall be admissible as a predicate offense for the purpose of imposing an enhanced penalty for a subsequent violation of that section, in accordance with the provisions of 23 V.S.A. § 1210.

    (d) Process.

    (1) The court shall bar viewing of the sealed offense in any accessible database that it maintains.

    (2) Until all charges on a docket have been sealed, the case file shall remain publicly accessible.

    (3) When all charges on a docket have been sealed, the case file shall become exempt from public access.

    (e) Special index.

    (1) The court shall keep a special index of cases that have been sealed together with the sealing order. The index shall list only the name of the person convicted of the offense, his or her date of birth, the docket number, and the criminal offense that was the subject of the sealing.

    (2) The special index and related documents specified in subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be confidential and shall be physically and electronically segregated in a manner that ensures confidentiality and that limits access to authorized persons.

    (3) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, inspection of the sealing order may be permitted only upon petition by the person who is the subject of the case. The Chief Superior Judge may permit special access to the index and the documents for research purposes pursuant to the rules for public access to court records.

    (4) The Court Administrator shall establish policies for implementing this subsection. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 2015, No. 133 (Adj. Sess.), § 2b, eff. May 25, 2016; 2019, No. 32, § 6.)

  • § 7608. Victims

    (a) At the time a petition is filed pursuant to this chapter, the respondent shall give notice of the petition to any victim of the offense who is known to the respondent. The victim shall have the right to offer the respondent a statement prior to any stipulation or to offer the court a statement. The disposition of the petition shall not be unnecessarily delayed pending receipt of a victim's statement. The respondent's inability to locate a victim after a reasonable effort has been made shall not be a bar to granting a petition.

    (b) As used in this section, "reasonable effort" means attempting to contact the victim by first-class mail at the victim's last known address and by telephone at the victim's last known phone number. (Added 2011, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)

  • § 7609. Expungement of criminal history records of an individual 18-21 years of age

    (a) Procedure. Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, the record of the criminal proceedings for an individual who was 18-21 years of age at the time the individual committed a qualifying crime shall be expunged within 30 days after the date on which the individual successfully completed the terms and conditions of the sentence for the conviction of the qualifying crime, absent a finding of good cause by the court. The court shall issue an order to expunge all records and files related to the arrest, citation, investigation, charge, adjudication of guilt, criminal proceedings, and probation related to the sentence. A copy of the order shall be sent to each agency, department, or official named in the order. Thereafter, the court, law enforcement officers, agencies, and departments shall reply to any request for information that no record exists with respect to such individual. Notwithstanding this subsection, the record shall not be expunged until restitution has been paid in full.

    (b) Exceptions.

    (1) A criminal record that includes both qualifying and nonqualifying offenses shall not be eligible for expungement pursuant to this section.

    (2) The Vermont Crime Information Center shall retain a special index of sentences for sex offenses that require registration pursuant to chapter 167, subchapter 3 of this title. This index shall only list the name and date of birth of the subject of the expunged files and records, the offense for which the subject was convicted, and the docket number of the proceeding that was the subject of the expungement. The special index shall be confidential and shall be accessed only by the Director of the Vermont Crime Information Center and an individual designated for the purpose of providing information to the Department of Corrections in the preparation of a presentence investigation in accordance with 28 V.S.A. §§ 204 and 204a.

    (c) Petitions. An individual who was 18-21 years of age at the time the individual committed a qualifying crime may file a petition with the court requesting expungement of the criminal history record related to the qualifying crime after 30 days have elapsed since the individual completed the terms and conditions for the sentence for the qualifying crime. The court shall grant the petition and issue an order sealing or expunging the record if it finds that sealing or expunging the record serves the interests of justice. (Added 2017, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)

  • § 7610. Criminal history record sealing special fund

    There is established the Criminal History Record Sealing Special Fund, which shall be managed in accordance with 32 V.S.A. chapter 7, subchapter 5. Fees collected pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 1431(e) for the filing of a petition to seal a criminal history record of a violation of 23 V.S.A. § 1201(a) shall be deposited into and credited to this Fund. This Fund shall be available to the Office of the Court Administrator, the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Vermont Crime Information Center to offset the administrative costs of sealing such records. Balances in the Fund at the end of the fiscal year shall be carried forward and remain in the Fund. (Added 2019, No. 32, § 7.)