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The Vermont Statutes Online

 

Title 15: Domestic Relations

Chapter 021: ABUSE PREVENTION

  • Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
  • § 1101. Definitions

    The following words as used in this chapter shall have the following meanings:

    (1) "Abuse" means the occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members:

    (A) Attempting to cause or causing physical harm.

    (B) Placing another in fear of imminent serious physical harm.

    (C) Abuse to children as defined in 33 V.S.A. chapter 49, subchapter 2.

    (D) Stalking as defined in 12 V.S.A. § 5131(6).

    (E) Sexual assault as defined in 12 V.S.A. § 5131(5).

    (2) "Household members" means persons who, for any period of time, are living or have lived together, are sharing or have shared occupancy of a dwelling, are engaged in or have engaged in a sexual relationship, or minors or adults who are dating or who have dated. "Dating" means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider when determining whether a dating relationship exists or existed include:

    (A) the nature of the relationship;

    (B) the length of time the relationship has existed;

    (C) the frequency of interaction between the parties; and

    (D) the length of time since the relationship was terminated, if applicable.

    (3) A "foreign abuse prevention order" means any protection order issued by the court of any other state that contains provisions similar to relief provisions authorized under this chapter, the Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings, 33 V.S.A. chapter 69, or 12 V.S.A. chapter 178.

    (4) "Other state" and "issuing state" shall mean any state other than Vermont and any federally recognized Indian tribe, territory or possession of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the District of Columbia.

    (5) A "protection order" means any injunction or other order issued for the purpose of preventing violent or threatening acts or harassment against, or contact or communication with or physical proximity to, another person, including temporary and final orders issued by civil and criminal courts, other than support or child custody orders, whether obtained by filing an independent action or as a pendente lite order in another proceeding so long as any civil order was issued in response to a complaint, petition or motion filed by or on behalf of a person seeking protection.

    (6) [Repealed.]  (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 207 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 25, 1982; 1981, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1991, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 1995, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 26, eff. May 15, 1996; 1997, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 1999, No. 91 (Adj. Sess.), § 38; 1999, No. 124 (Adj. Sess.), § 10; 2005, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. Oct. 1, 2006; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 128; 2015, No. 23, § 152.)

  • § 1102. Jurisdiction and venue

    (a) The family division of the superior court shall have jurisdiction over proceedings under this chapter.

    (b) Emergency orders under section 1104 of this title may be issued by a judge of the criminal, civil, or family division of the superior court.

    (c) Proceedings under this chapter may be commenced in the county in which the plaintiff resides. If the plaintiff has left the residence or household to avoid abuse, the plaintiff shall have the option to bring an action in the county of the previous residence or household or the county of the new residence or household. (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1985, No. 79, § 1; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 129.)

  • § 1103. Requests for relief

    (a) Any family or household member may seek relief from abuse by another family or household member on behalf of himself or herself or his or her children by filing a complaint under this chapter. A minor 16 years of age or older, or a minor of any age who is in a dating relationship as defined in subdivision 1101(2) of this chapter, may file a complaint under this chapter seeking relief on his or her own behalf. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order.

    (b) Except as provided in section 1104 of this title, the court shall grant relief only after notice to the defendant and a hearing. The plaintiff shall have the burden of proving abuse by a preponderance of the evidence.

    (c)(1) The court shall make such orders as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff or the children, or both, if the court finds that the defendant has abused the plaintiff, and:

    (A) there is a danger of further abuse; or

    (B) the defendant is currently incarcerated and has been convicted of one of the following: murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, domestic assault, aggravated domestic assault, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, stalking, aggravated stalking, lewd or lascivious conduct with a child, use of a child in a sexual performance, or consenting to a sexual performance.

    (2) The court order may include the following:

    (A) an order that the defendant refrain from abusing the plaintiff or his or her children, or both, and from interfering with their personal liberty, including restrictions on the defendant's ability to contact the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, in any way, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party, with the purpose of making contact with the plaintiff, including in writing or by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication, and restrictions prohibiting the defendant from coming within a fixed distance of the plaintiff, the children, the plaintiff's residence, or other designated locations where the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children are likely to spend time;

    (B) an order that the defendant immediately vacate the household and that the plaintiff be awarded sole possession of a residence;

    (C) a temporary award of parental rights and responsibilities in accordance with the criteria in section 665 of this title;

    (D) an order for parent-child contact under such conditions as are necessary to protect the child or the plaintiff, or both, from abuse. An order for parent-child contact may if necessary include conditions under which the plaintiff may deny parent-child contact pending further order of the court;

    (E) if the court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the plaintiff, an order that the defendant pay the plaintiff's living expenses for a fixed period of time not to exceed three months;

    (F) if the court finds that the defendant has a duty to support the child or children, a temporary order of child support pursuant to chapter 5 of this title, for a period not to exceed three months. A support order granted under this section may be extended if the relief from abuse proceeding is consolidated with an action for legal separation, divorce, or parentage;

    (G) an order concerning the possession, care, and control of any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or a minor child residing in the household; and

    (H) an order that the defendant return any personal documentation in his or her possession, including immigration documentation, birth certificates, and identification cards:

    (i) pertaining to the plaintiff; or

    (ii) pertaining to the plaintiff's children if relief is sought for the children or for good cause shown.

    (d) In a hearing under this chapter, neither opinion evidence of nor evidence of the reputation of the plaintiff's sexual conduct shall be admitted. Evidence of prior sexual conduct of the plaintiff shall not be admitted; provided, however, where it bears on the credibility of the plaintiff or it is material to a fact at issue and its probative value outweighs its private character, the court may admit:

    (1) Evidence of the plaintiff's past sexual conduct with the defendant.

    (2) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's sexual conduct showing the source of origin of semen, pregnancy, or disease.

    (3) Evidence of specific instances of the plaintiff's past false allegations of violations of 13 V.S.A. chapter 59 or 72.

    (e) Relief shall be granted for a fixed period, at the expiration of which time the court may extend any order, upon motion of the plaintiff, for such additional time as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff, the children, or both, from abuse. It is not necessary for the court to find that abuse has occurred during the pendency of the order to extend the terms of the order. The court may modify its order at any subsequent time upon motion by either party and a showing of a substantial change in circumstance.

    (f) No filing fee shall be required.

    (g) Every order under this chapter shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, the date and time of the order, and shall be signed by the judge.

    (h) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.

    (i) When findings are required under this section, the court shall make either written findings of fact or oral findings of fact on the record.

    (j) Every final order issued under this section shall bear the following language: "VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH."

    (k) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: "MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904."  (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 1983, No. 34, eff. April 18, 1983; 1985, No. 79, § 3; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. Oct. 1, 2006; 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2013, No. 17, § 8; 2015, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 31; 2017, No. 44, § 8, eff. May 23, 2017.)

  • § 1104. Emergency relief

    (a) In accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure, temporary orders under this chapter may be issued ex parte, without notice to the defendant, upon motion and findings by the court that the defendant has abused the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both. The plaintiff shall submit an affidavit in support of the order. A minor 16 years of age or older, or a minor of any age who is in a dating relationship as defined in subdivision 1101(2) of this chapter, may seek relief on his or her own behalf. Relief under this section shall be limited as follows:

    (1) Upon a finding that there is an immediate danger of further abuse, an order may be granted requiring the defendant:

    (A) to refrain from abusing the plaintiff or his or her children, or both, or from cruelly treating as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 352 or 352a or killing any animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held as a pet by either party or by a minor child residing in the household;

    (B) to refrain from interfering with the plaintiff's personal liberty or the personal liberty of the plaintiff's children, or both;

    (C) to refrain from coming within a fixed distance of the plaintiff, the plaintiff's children, the plaintiff's residence, or the plaintiff's place of employment; and

    (D) to refrain from contacting the plaintiff or the plaintiff's children, or both, in any way, whether directly, indirectly, or through a third party, with the purpose of making contact with the plaintiff, including in writing or by telephone, e-mail, or other electronic communication.

    (2) Upon a finding that the plaintiff, his or her children, or both have been forced from the household and will be without shelter unless the defendant is ordered to vacate the premises, the court may order the defendant to vacate immediately the household and may order sole possession of the premises to the plaintiff.

    (3) Upon a finding that there is immediate danger of physical or emotional harm to minor children, the court may award temporary custody of these minor children to the plaintiff or to other persons.

    (b) Every order issued under this section shall contain the name of the court, the names of the parties, the date of the petition, and the date and time of the order and shall be signed by the judge. Every order issued under this section shall state upon its face a date, time, and place when the defendant may appear to petition the court for modification or discharge of the order. This opportunity to contest shall be scheduled as soon as reasonably possible, which in no event shall be more than 14 days from the date of issuance of the order. At such hearings, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving abuse by a preponderance of the evidence. If the court finds that the plaintiff has met his or her burden, it shall continue the order in effect and make such other order as it deems necessary to protect the plaintiff.

    (c) Form complaints and form orders shall be provided by the Court Administrator and shall be maintained by the clerks of the courts.

    (d) Every order issued under this chapter shall bear the following language: "VIOLATION OF THIS ORDER IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AND MAY ALSO BE PROSECUTED AS CRIMINAL CONTEMPT PUNISHABLE BY FINE OR IMPRISONMENT, OR BOTH."

    (e) Affidavit forms required pursuant to this section shall bear the following language: "MAKING FALSE STATEMENTS IN THIS AFFIDAVIT IS A CRIME SUBJECT TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT OR A FINE, OR BOTH, AS PROVIDED BY 13 V.S.A. § 2904."  (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1985, No. 79, § 4; 1989, No. 294 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2005, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. Oct. 1, 2006; 2013, No. 17, § 9; 2015, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2017, No. 11, § 48; 2017, No. 44, § 9, eff. May 23, 2017.)

  • § 1105. Service

    (a) A complaint or ex parte temporary order or final order issued under this chapter shall be served in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure and may be served by any law enforcement officer. A court that issues an order under this chapter during court hours shall promptly transmit the order electronically or by other means to a law enforcement agency for service.

    (b) A defendant who attends a hearing held under section 1103 or 1104 of this title at which a temporary or final order under this chapter is issued and who receives notice from the court on the record that the order has been issued shall be deemed to have been served. A defendant notified by the court on the record shall be required to adhere immediately to the provisions of the order. However, even when the court has previously notified the defendant of the order, the court shall transmit the order for additional service by a law enforcement agency.

    (c) Abuse orders shall be served by the law enforcement agency at the earliest possible time and shall take precedence over other summonses and orders. Orders shall be served in a manner calculated to ensure the safety of the plaintiff. Methods of service which include advance notification to the defendant shall not be used. The person making service shall file a return of service with the court stating the date, time, and place at which the order was delivered personally to the defendant.

    (d) If service of a notice of hearing issued under section 1103 or 1104 of this title cannot be made before the scheduled hearing, the court shall continue the hearing and extend the terms of the order upon request of the plaintiff for such additional time as it deems necessary to achieve service on the defendant. (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2005, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. Oct. 1, 2006; 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2013, No. 17, § 1; 2013, No. 17, § 2, eff. Nov. 1, 2013.)

  • § 1106. Procedure

    (a) Except as otherwise specified in this chapter, proceedings commenced under this chapter shall be in accordance with the Vermont Rules for Family Proceedings and shall be in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies.

    (b)(1) The Court Administrator shall establish procedures to ensure access to relief after regular court hours, or on weekends and holidays. The Court Administrator is authorized to contract with public or private agencies to assist plaintiffs to seek relief and to gain access to Superior Courts. Law enforcement agencies shall assist in carrying out the intent of this section.

    (2)(A) The court shall designate an authorized person to receive requests for ex parte temporary relief from abuse orders submitted after regular court hours pursuant to section 1104 of this title, including requests made by reliable electronic means according to the procedures in this subdivision.

    (B) If a secure setting is not available for processing an ex parte temporary relief from abuse order submitted after regular court hours, or if the authorized person determines that electronic submission is appropriate under the circumstances, the authorized person shall inform the applicant that a complaint and affidavit may be submitted electronically.

    (C) The affidavit shall be sworn to or affirmed by administration of the oath over the telephone to the applicant by the authorized person, and shall conclude with the following statement: "I declare under the penalty of perjury pursuant to the laws of the State of Vermont that the foregoing is true and accurate. I understand that the penalty for perjury is imprisonment of not more than 15 years or a fine of not more than $10,000.00, or both." The authorized person shall note on the affidavit the date and time that the oath was administered.

    (D) The authorized person shall communicate the contents of the complaint and affidavit to a judicial officer telephonically or by reliable electronic means. The judicial officer shall decide whether to grant or deny the complaint and issue the order solely on the basis of the contents of the affidavit or affidavits provided. The judicial officer shall communicate the decision to the authorized person, who shall communicate it to the applicant. If the order is issued, it shall be delivered to the appropriate law enforcement agency for service and to the holding station.

    (c) The Office of the Court Administrator shall ensure that the Superior Court has procedures in place so that the contents of orders and pendency of other proceedings can be known to all courts for cases in which an abuse prevention proceeding is related to a criminal proceeding. (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1981, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 130; 2017, No. 110 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 25, 2018.)

  • § 1107. Filing orders with law enforcement personnel; department of public safety protection order database

    (a) Police departments, sheriff's departments, and state police district offices shall establish procedures for filing abuse prevention orders issued under this chapter, chapter 69 of Title 33, chapter 178 of Title 12, protective orders relating to contact with a child issued under 33 V.S.A. § 5115, , and foreign abuse prevention orders and for making their personnel aware of the existence and contents of such orders.

    (b) Any court in this state that issues an abuse prevention order under section 1104 or 1103 of this chapter, or that files a foreign abuse prevention order in accordance with subsection 1108(d) of this chapter, or that issues a protective order relating to contact with a child under 33 V.S.A. § 5115, shall transmit a copy of the order to the department of public safety protection order database. (Added 1979, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1995, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 27, eff. May 15, 1996; 2005, No. 193 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. Oct. 1, 2006; 2009, No. 28, § 1.)

  • § 1108. Enforcement

    (a) Law enforcement officers are authorized to enforce orders issued under this chapter. A foreign abuse prevention order shall be accorded full faith and credit throughout this state and shall be enforced as if it were an order of this state. Enforcement may include, but is not limited to:

    (1) making an arrest in accordance with the provisions of V.R.Cr.P. 3;

    (2) assisting the recipient of an order granting sole possession of the residence to obtain sole possession of the residence if the defendant refuses to leave;

    (3) assisting the recipient of an order granting sole custody of children to obtain sole custody of children if the defendant refuses to release them.

    (b) A law enforcement officer may rely upon a copy of any order issued under this chapter or any foreign abuse prevention order which has been provided to the law enforcement officer by any source. Law enforcement personnel may rely upon the written and sworn statement of the person protected by the foreign abuse prevention order that the order remains in effect. An officer's reasonable reliance as provided in this subsection shall be a complete defense in any civil action arising in connection with a court's finding under subsection (c) of this section that the order was not enforceable.

    (c) A foreign abuse prevention order shall be enforceable in the courts in this state if all the following are satisfied:

    (1) The defendant has received notice of the order in compliance with the requirements of the issuing state.

    (2) The order is in effect in the issuing state.

    (3) The court in the issuing state had jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter under the law of the issuing state.

    (4) In the issuing state the law gives reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard to the person against whom the order is sought sufficient to protect that person's right to due process. In the case of ex parte orders, notice and opportunity to be heard must be provided within a reasonable time after the order is issued, sufficient to protect the defendant's due process rights. Failure to provide reasonable notice and opportunity to be heard shall be an affirmative defense to any charge or process filed seeking enforcement of the foreign protection order.

    (d) A person entitled to protection under a foreign abuse prevention order may file the foreign abuse prevention order in any family division of the superior court by filing a certified copy of the order with the court. The person shall swear under oath in an affidavit that to the best of the person's knowledge the order is presently in effect as written. Upon inquiry by a law enforcement agency, the clerk of the family division of the superior court shall make a copy of the foreign abuse prevention order available.

    (e) In addition to the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, violation of an order issued under this chapter may be prosecuted as a criminal contempt under Rule 42 of Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure. The prosecution for criminal contempt may be initiated by the state's attorney in district or superior court in the unit or county in which the violation occurred. The maximum penalty which may be imposed under this subsection shall be a fine of $1,000.00 or imprisonment for six months, or both. A sentence of imprisonment upon conviction for criminal contempt may be stayed in the discretion of the court pending the expiration of the time allowed for filing notice of appeal or pending appeal if any appeal is taken. After two years have passed from conviction under this subsection, the court may on motion of the defendant expunge the record of the criminal proceeding and conviction unless the defendant has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude or a violation of a domestic abuse order after such initial adjudication. (Added 1981, No. 218 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 1985, No. 79, § 5; 1995, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 28, eff. May 15, 1996; 2009, No. 154 (Adj. Sess.), § 238.)

  • § 1109. Appeals

    An order of the court issued under section 1103 of this title shall be treated as a final order for the purposes of appeal. Appeal may be taken by either party to the supreme court under the Vermont Rules of Appellate Procedure and the appeal shall be determined forthwith. (Added 1985, No. 79, § 6.)

  • § 1110. Requests for child support; transfer to office of magistrate

    A request for child support under this chapter may be transferred by the court to the office of magistrate for hearing and disposal. A magistrate's support order granted under this section may not exceed three months unless the relief from abuse proceeding is consolidated with an action for legal separation, divorce or parentage. (Added 1993, No. 228 (Adj. Sess.), § 5.)

  • §§ 1111-1114. [Reserved for future use.].

  • § 1115. Limitation or denial of visitation

    In any proceeding under this title, the fact that a parent has been convicted of any of the following offenses against the parent's child shall be a ground for limiting or denying visitation:

    (1) sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252;

    (2) aggravated sexual assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3253;

    (3) lewd and lascivious conduct as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2601;

    (4) sexual activity by a caregiver as defined in 33 V.S.A. § 6913;

    (5) kidnapping as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2405(a)(1)(D);

    (6) lewd and lascivious conduct with a child as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 2602;

    (7) prohibited acts in violation of 13 V.S.A. § 2635;

    (8) sexual exploitation of children as defined in 13 V.S.A. chapter 64; or

    (9) an attempt to commit any offense listed in this section. (Added 1995, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 33, eff. May 15, 1996.)


  • Subchapter 002: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEWS
  • § 1140. Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission

    (a) The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission is established within the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Council on Domestic Violence, for the following purposes:

    (1) To examine the trends and patterns of domestic violence-related fatalities in Vermont.

    (2) To identify barriers to safety, the strengths and weaknesses in communities, and systemic responses to domestic violence.

    (3) To educate the public, service providers, and policymakers about domestic violence fatalities and strategies for intervention and prevention.

    (4) To recommend policies, practices, and services that will encourage collaboration and reduce fatalities due to domestic violence.

    (b) The Commission shall comprise 17 members, consisting of the following:

    (1) the Attorney General or designee;

    (2) the Commissioner of Health or designee;

    (3) the Commissioner for Children and Families or designee;

    (4) the Commissioner of Corrections or designee;

    (5) the Commissioner of Public Safety or designee;

    (6) the Chief Medical Examiner or designee;

    (7) a State's Attorney with experience prosecuting domestic violence cases, appointed by the Executive Director of the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs;

    (8) the Defender General or designee;

    (9) a member of the Vermont Coalition of Batterer Intervention Services;

    (10) a member of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence;

    (11) a representative of the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence;

    (12) a representative of local law enforcement, appointed by the Governor;

    (13) a victim or survivor of domestic violence, appointed by the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence;

    (14) a physician, appointed by the Governor;

    (15) the Executive Director of the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Council or designee;

    (16) the Commissioner of Mental Health or designee; and

    (17) one judge, appointed by the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court.

    (c) In any case subject to review by the Commission, upon written request of the Commission, a person who possesses information or records that are necessary and relevant to a domestic violence fatality review shall, as soon as practicable, provide the Commission with the information and records. A person who provides information or records upon request of the Commission is not criminally or civilly liable for providing information or records in compliance with this section. The Commission shall review fatalities which are not under investigation and fatalities in cases that are postadjudication which have received a final judgment.

    (d) The proceedings and records of the Commission are confidential and are not subject to subpoena, discovery or introduction into evidence in a civil or criminal action. The Commission shall disclose conclusions and recommendations upon request, but may not disclose information, records or data that are otherwise confidential, such as autopsy records. The Commission shall not use the information, records or data for purposes other than those designated by subsections (a) and (g) of this section.

    (e) The Commission is authorized to require any person appearing before it to sign a confidentiality agreement created by the Commission in order to maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings. In addition, the Commission may enter into agreements with nonprofit organizations and private agencies to obtain otherwise confidential information.

    (f) Commission meetings are confidential, and shall be exempt from 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 2 (open meetings law). Commission records are confidential, and shall be exempt from 1 V.S.A. chapter 5, subchapter 3 (public access to records).

    (g) The Commission shall report its findings and recommendations to the Governor, the General Assembly, the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court, and the Vermont Council on Domestic Violence no later than the third Tuesday in January of the first year of the biennial session. The report shall be available to the public through the Office of the Attorney General. The Commission may issue data or other information periodically, in addition to the biennial report. The provisions of 2 V.S.A. § 20(d) (expiration of required reports) shall not apply to the report to be made under this subsection. (Added 2001, No. 88 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 2, 2002; amended 2009, No. 135 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 112; 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 25.)


  • Subchapter 003: ADDRESS CONFIDENTIALITY FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, SEXUAL ASSAULT OR STALKING
  • § 1150. Findings and intent

    (a) The general assembly finds that persons attempting to escape from actual or threatened domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking frequently establish new addresses in order to prevent their assailants or probable assailants from finding them.

    (b) It is the purpose of this subchapter to:

    (1) enable state and local agencies to respond to requests for public records without disclosing the location of a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking;

    (2) promote interagency cooperation with the secretary of state in providing address confidentiality for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; and

    (3) enable state agencies and local agencies to accept a program participant's use of an address, and local agencies to accept an address, designated by the secretary of state as a substitute mailing address. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)

  • § 1151. Definitions

    Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout the subchapter.

    (1) "Actual address" means the physical location where the applicant resides and may include a school address or work address of an individual, as specified on the individual's application to be a program participant under this chapter.

    (2) "Agency" means any subdivision of the State of Vermont, a municipality, or a subdivision of a municipality.

    (3) "Domestic violence" means an act of abuse as defined in subdivision 1101(1) of this title and includes a threat of such acts committed against an individual in a domestic situation, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

    (4) "Human trafficking" means conduct prohibited by 13 V.S.A. § 2652 or 2653, and includes a threat of such, regardless of whether the conduct or threat of conduct has been reported to law enforcement officers.

    (5) "Law enforcement agency" means the Department of Public Safety, a municipal police department, a sheriff's department, the Attorney General's Office, a State's Attorney's Office, or certified law enforcement officers of the Department of Motor Vehicles, Agency of Natural Resources, or Department of Liquor and Lottery. "Law enforcement agency" shall also mean the Department for Children and Families when engaged in:

    (A) the investigation of child abuse and neglect;

    (B) the delivery of services to families and children with whom the Department is working pursuant to the provisions of 33 V.S.A. chapters 51, 52, and 53; or

    (C) the performance of the Department's responsibilities pursuant to an interstate compact to which the State is a party.

    (6) "Law enforcement purpose" means all matters relating to:

    (A) the prevention, investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of criminal offenses, civil matters, or juvenile matters;

    (B) the investigation, prosecution, adjudication, detention, supervision, or correction of persons suspected, charged, or convicted of criminal offenses or juvenile delinquencies;

    (C) the protection of the general health, welfare, and safety of the public or the State of Vermont;

    (D) the execution and enforcement of court orders;

    (E) service of criminal or civil process or court orders;

    (F) screening for criminal justice employment;

    (G) other actions taken in performance of official duties, as set forth by statutes, rules, policies, judicial case law, and the U.S. and Vermont Constitutions; and

    (H) criminal identification activities, including the collection, storage, and dissemination of criminal history records, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 2056a(a)(1), sex offender registry information, and DNA material and information.

    (7) "Program participant" means a person certified as a Program participant under this chapter.

    (8) "Public record" means a public record as defined in 1 V.S.A. § 317.

    (9) "Secretary" means the Vermont Secretary of State.

    (10) "Sexual assault" means an act of assault as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 3252(a) or (b) (sexual assault) or 3253(a) (aggravated sexual assault), and includes a threat of such acts, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

    (11) "Stalking" means conduct as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 1061 (stalking) or 1063 (aggravated stalking), and includes a threat of such acts, regardless of whether these acts or threats have been reported to law enforcement officers.

    (12) "Substitute address" means the Secretary's designated address for the Address Confidentiality Program. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 2, eff. May 21, 2001; 2011, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 1, 2012; 2013, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 113; 2019, No. 73, § 25.)

  • § 1152. Address Confidentiality Program; application; certification

    (a) An adult person, a parent or legal guardian acting on behalf of a minor, or a legal guardian acting on behalf of an incapacitated person may apply to the Secretary of State to have an address designated by the Secretary serve as the person's address or the address of the minor or incapacitated person. The Secretary of State shall approve an application if it is filed in the manner and on the form prescribed by the Secretary of State, and if it contains:

    (1) a statement made under oath by the applicant that:

    (A) the applicant, or the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made, is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking;

    (B) the applicant fears for his or her safety or his or her children's safety, or the safety of the minor or incapacitated person on whose behalf the application is made;

    (C) the parent or legal guardian applying on behalf of a minor or incapacitated person has legal authority to act on the person's behalf;

    (D) if the applicant is under the supervision of the Department of Corrections, the applicant has notified the Department of the actual address and the applicant authorizes the release of the actual address to the Department; and

    (E) if the applicant is required to report the actual address for the Sex Offender Registry under 13 V.S.A. chapter 167, subchapter 3, the applicant authorizes the release of the actual address to the Registry;

    (2) a designation of the Secretary as agent for purposes of service of process and for the purpose of receipt of mail;

    (3) the mailing address where the applicant can be contacted by the Secretary and the telephone number or numbers where the applicant can be called by the Secretary;

    (4) the new address or addresses that the applicant requests not be disclosed for the reason that disclosure will increase the risk of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking; and

    (5) the signature of the applicant and the name of any individual or representative of any office who assisted in the preparation of the application and the date on which the applicant signed the application.

    (b) Applications shall be filed with the Office of the Secretary.

    (c) Upon receipt of a properly completed application, the Secretary shall certify the applicant as a program participant. Applicants shall be certified for four years following the date of filing, unless the certification is withdrawn or cancelled before that date. The Secretary shall by rule establish a renewal procedure.

    (d) A person who knowingly provides false or incorrect information to the Secretary as required by this chapter may be prosecuted under 13 V.S.A. § 2904.

    (e) A program participant shall notify the Secretary of State of a change of actual address within seven days of the change of address.

    (f) The Civil or Family Division of Washington County Superior Court shall have jurisdiction over petitions for protective orders filed by program participants pursuant to 12 V.S.A. §§ 5133 and 5134, to sections 1103 and 1104 of this title, and to 33 V.S.A. § 6935. A program participant may file a petition for a protective order in the county in which he or she resides or in Washington County to protect the confidentiality of his or her address. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 3, eff. May 21, 2001; 2011, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. May 1, 2012; 2013, No. 17, § 10.)

  • § 1153. Certification cancellation

    (a) The secretary of state may cancel a program participant's certification if, after the passage of 14 days:

    (1) from the date of changing his or her name, the program participant does not notify the secretary that he or she has obtained a name change; however, the program participant may reapply under his or her new name;

    (2) from the date of changing his or her address, the program participant fails to notify the secretary of the change of address; or

    (3) from the date the secretary first receives mail, forwarded to the program participant's address, returned as nondeliverable.

    (b) The secretary shall cancel certification of a program participant who applies using false information.

    (c) The secretary shall send notice of cancellation to the program participant. Notice of cancellation shall set out the reasons for cancellation. The program participant shall have 30 days to appeal the cancellation decision under procedures developed by the secretary.

    (d) Program participants may withdraw from the program by giving the secretary written notice of their intention. The secretary shall establish, by rule, a secure procedure for ensuring that the request for withdrawal is legitimate. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 4, eff. May 21, 2001.)

  • § 1154. Agency use of designated address; agency other than law enforcement agency

    (a) A program participant shall request that state and local agencies, other than law enforcement agencies, use the substitute address as the participant's address. When creating a new public record, state and local agencies, other than law enforcement agencies, shall accept the substitute address, unless the secretary has determined that:

    (1) the agency has a bona fide requirement for the use of the actual address which would otherwise be confidential under this subchapter;

    (2) the address will be used only for those statutory and administrative purposes;

    (3) the agency has identified the specific program participant's record for which the waiver is requested;

    (4) the agency has identified the individuals who will have access to the record; and

    (5) the agency has explained how its acceptance of the substitute address will prevent the agency from meeting its obligations under the law and why it cannot meet its statutory or administrative obligation by a change in its internal procedures.

    (b) During the review, evaluation, and appeal of an agency's request, the agency shall accept the use of a program participant's substitute address.

    (c) The secretary's determination to grant or withhold a requested waiver must be based on, but not limited to, an evaluation of the information under subsection (a) of this section.

    (d) If the secretary finds that the agency has a bona fide purpose for the actual address and that the information will only be used for that purpose, the secretary shall issue the actual address to the agency. Prior to granting the waiver, the secretary shall notify the program participant of the waiver, including the name of the agency and the reasons for the waiver. If granted a waiver, the agency shall maintain the confidentiality of the program participant's address by redacting the actual address when the record is released to any person.

    (e) Denial of the agency waiver request must be made in writing and include a statement of the reasons for denial.

    (f) Acceptance or denial of the agency's waiver request constitutes final agency action. An aggrieved party may appeal.

    (g) A program participant may use the address designated by the secretary as his or her work address.

    (h) The office of the secretary shall forward all first class mail to the appropriate program participants.

    (i) The secretary shall keep a record of all waivers and all documentation relating to requests for waivers.

    (j) Any agency receiving a waiver may not make the program participant's actual address available for inspection or copying, except under the following circumstances:

    (1) if requested by a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose as defined in subdivision 1151(5) of this title; or

    (2) if directed by a court order to a person identified in the order. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 5, eff. May 21, 2001.)

  • § 1154a. Agency use of designated address; law enforcement agency

    (a) If requested in person by a program participant to the person creating the record prior to the creation of the record, and upon proof of participation in the program established by this chapter, a law enforcement agency shall use the participant's substitute address in:

    (1) a summons or complaint for a violation within the jurisdiction of the judicial bureau as set forth in 4 V.S.A. § 1102.

    (2) a citation to appear under Rule 3 of the Vermont Rules of Criminal Procedure; or

    (3) an accident report filed with the department of motor vehicles.

    (b) Nothing in this subchapter shall prevent a law enforcement agency from requiring that a program participant provide his or her actual address upon request from the agency.

    (c) A law enforcement agency may, in its discretion, use a substitute address in any record released by the agency. (Added 2001, No. 28, § 6, eff. May 21, 2001.)

  • § 1155. Disclosure of address prohibited; exceptions

    (a) The secretary of state may not make a program participant's address, other than the address designated by the secretary, available for inspection or copying, except under the following circumstances:

    (1) if requested by a law enforcement agency for a law enforcement purpose as defined in subdivision 1151(5) of this title; or

    (2) if directed by a court order to a person identified in the order; or

    (3) to verify the participation of a specific program participant, in which case the secretary may only confirm information supplied by the requester.

    (b) The secretary shall ensure by rule that:

    (1) when a law enforcement agency determines it has an immediate need for a participant's actual address, disclosure of the address shall occur immediately; and

    (2) in other circumstances, there is an expedited process for disclosure.

    (c) The secretary may request that an agency review its disclosure requests to determine whether such requests were appropriate.

    (d) The secretary shall provide immediate notification of disclosure to a program participant when disclosure takes place under subdivisions (a)(2) and (3) of this section.

    (e)(1) No person shall knowingly and intentionally obtain a program participant's actual address from the secretary knowing that he or she was not authorized to obtain the address information.

    (2) No employee of a state, local, or municipal agency or sheriff's department shall knowingly and intentionally disclose, with the intent to disseminate to the individual from whom the program participant is seeking address confidentiality, a participant's actual address to a person known to the employee to be prohibited from receiving the participant's actual address, unless such disclosure is permissible by law. This subdivision is only intended to apply when an employee obtains a participant's actual address during the course of the employee's official duties and, at the time of disclosure, the employee has specific knowledge that the address disclosed belongs to a person who is participating in the program.

    (3) Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit an agency or agency employee from disclosing or providing a participant's actual address to an agency attorney providing advice to an agency or agency employee, nor shall any agency attorney be prohibited, except as set forth in section 1156 of this title, from disclosing a participant's actual address to other law enforcement employees, other agency attorneys, paralegals, or their support staff, if disclosure is related to providing such advice or to the agency attorney's representation of the agency or agency employee. In the case of law enforcement, agency attorneys shall also include the attorneys in the office of the state's attorneys, attorney general and the United States attorney. An attorney, during the course of providing advice to another person or agency, shall not be subject to the provisions set forth in subdivisions 1155(e)(1) and (2) of this title, nor shall any actionable duty arise from giving such advice.

    (4) A person who violates subdivisions (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be assessed a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00. Each unauthorized disclosure shall constitute a separate civil violation. Nothing in this subdivision shall preclude criminal prosecution for a violation. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 7, eff. May 21, 2001.)

  • § 1156. Nondisclosure of address in criminal and civil proceedings

    No person shall be compelled to disclose a program participant's actual address during the discovery phase of or during a proceeding before a court of competent jurisdiction or administrative tribunal unless the court or administrative tribunal finds, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the disclosure is required in the interests of justice. A court or administrative tribunal may seal that portion of any record that contains a program participant's actual address. Nothing in this subchapter shall prevent the state, in its discretion, from using a program participant's actual address in any document or record filed with a court or administrative tribunal if, at the time of filing, the document or record is not a public record. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 28, § 8, eff. May 21, 2001.)

  • § 1157. Assistance for program applicants

    The Secretary of State shall make available a list of State and local agencies and nonprofit agencies that provide counseling and shelter services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking to assist persons applying to be program participants. Such information provided by the Office of the Secretary or designees to applicants shall in no way be construed as legal advice. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2011, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. May 1, 2012.)

  • § 1158. Voting by program participant

    A program participant who is otherwise qualified to vote may register to vote and apply for an early voter absentee ballot pursuant to rules adopted by the secretary of state under section 1160 of this title. Such rules shall enable a town clerk to substitute, on all voting records of the town, the designation "blind ballot" wherever the name or address of the voter might otherwise appear. The program participant shall receive early voter absentee ballots for all elections in the jurisdictions for which that individual resides in the same manner as early or absentee voters who qualify under 17 V.S.A. § 2531. The town clerk shall transmit the early voter absentee ballot to the program participant at the address designated by the participant in his or her application. Neither the name nor the address of a program participant shall be included in any list of registered voters available to the public. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2001, No. 6, §§ 12(a), 12(b), eff. April 10, 2001.)

  • § 1159. Custody and visitation orders

    Nothing in this chapter, nor participation in this program, affects custody or visitation orders in effect prior to or during program participation. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001.)

  • § 1160. Adoption of rules

    The Secretary of State shall adopt rules necessary to perform his or her duties under this subchapter relating to: program application and certification; certification cancellation; agency use of designated addresses and exceptions; voting by program participants; and recording of vital statistics for program participants. All such rules shall conform with the findings and intent of the General Assembly, as described in section 1150 of this title, and shall be designed with an understanding of the needs and circumstances of victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and human trafficking. (Added 1999, No. 134 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2001; amended 2011, No. 94 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. May 1, 2012.)


  • Subchapter 004: VERMONT COUNCIL ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  • § 1171. Creation of Vermont council on domestic violence

    There is created the Vermont council on domestic violence. The council shall provide leadership for Vermont's statewide effort to eradicate domestic violence. (Added 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 14.)

  • § 1172. Purpose; powers; duties

    (a) The Council shall:

    (1) facilitate opportunities for dialogue, advocacy, education, and support among State agencies, advocacy groups, and the public;

    (2) collect, review, and analyze data and information relating to domestic violence;

    (3) provide assistance in developing effective responses to domestic violence, including model policies and procedures, prevention and education initiatives, and domestic-violence-related programs for the criminal justice and human services sectors; specifically, the Council shall work with the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs and the Department of Corrections to develop recommendations for practice in evidence-based prosecution, risk assessment with domestic violence offenders, the use of deferred sentences in domestic violence cases, standardized probation conditions for domestic violence offenders, appropriate programming options for domestic violence offenders, and strategies for addressing victims of domestic violence who commit crimes as a result of the coercion of a batterer;

    (4) recommend changes in State programs, laws, administrative regulations, policies, and budgets related to domestic violence;

    (5) establish and maintain standards for intervention programs for perpetrators of domestic violence, and develop a process for certifying that programs are complying with the standards;

    (6) review and comment upon legislation relating to domestic violence introduced in the General Assembly at the request of any member of the General Assembly or on its own initiative; and

    (7) study the issue of employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence and suggest model workplace protections and policies.

    (b) The Council shall collaborate with the Vermont Fatality Review Commission to develop strategies for implementing the Commission's recommendations.

    (c) [Repealed.]  (Added 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; amended 2011, No. 139 (Adj. Sess.), § 51, eff. May 14, 2012.)

  • § 1173. Composition and meetings

    (a) The Council shall consist of the following members to be appointed as follows:

    (1) To be appointed by the Governor:

    (A) one member of the public who shall be a survivor of domestic violence;

    (B) a representative from the same-sex domestic violence service provider community;

    (C) a representative from the service provider community for people who are deaf or have disabilities;

    (D) a representative from the Department of State's Attorneys and Sheriffs;

    (E) a prosecutor from one of the STOP Domestic Violence units;

    (F) a member of the Vermont clergy; and

    (G) one member of the public representing the interests of children exposed to domestic violence.

    (2) To be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court:

    (A) five members of the judiciary, one of whom may be a magistrate, one of whom may be an assistant judge, and one of whom may be a court manager;

    (B) one guardian ad litem;

    (C) a representative of Vermont Legal Aid; and

    (D) a representative of the Vermont Bar experienced in family law.

    (3) The following members:

    (A) the Secretary of Human Services or designee;

    (B) the Director of the Vermont Crime Information Center or designee;

    (C) the Defender General or designee;

    (D) the Attorney General or designee;

    (E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services or designee;

    (F) the Director of the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence or designee;

    (G) the Executive Director of the Criminal Justice Training Council or designee;

    (H) the Executive Director of the Vermont Commission on Women or designee;

    (I) a representative from each county domestic violence task force;

    (J) a representative from Vermont's Supervised Visitation Coalition;

    (K) a representative from the Vermont Police Chiefs' Association;

    (L) a representative from the Vermont Sheriffs' Association;

    (M) a representative from the Vermont Coalition of Batterer Intervention Services;

    (N) the Commissioner for Children and Families or designee;

    (O) the Commissioner of Public Safety or designee;

    (P) the Commissioner of Corrections or designee; and

    (Q) the Secretary of Education or designee.

    (b) The Council may establish any committees necessary to carry out its duties.

    (c) The Council shall meet at least quarterly to conduct its business. (Added 2007, No. 174 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 255, eff. Feb. 14, 2014; 2013, No. 96 (Adj. Sess.), § 71; 2015, No. 97 (Adj. Sess.), § 81.)