The Vermont Statutes Online
NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.
NOTE: The online version of the Vermont Statutes does NOT yet include the actions of the 2023 legislative session. The 2023 updates should be available by the end of October.
§ 163. Juvenile court diversion project
(a) The Attorney General shall develop and administer a juvenile court diversion project for the purpose of assisting juveniles charged with delinquent acts. In consultation with the diversion programs, the Attorney General shall adopt a policies and procedures manual in compliance with this section.
(b) The diversion program administered by the Attorney General shall support the operation of diversion programs in local communities through grants of financial assistance to, or by contracting for services with, municipalities, private groups, or other local organizations. The Attorney General may require local financial contributions as a condition of receipt of project funding.
(c) All diversion projects receiving financial assistance from the Attorney General shall adhere to the following provisions:
(1) The diversion project shall only accept persons against whom charges have been filed and the court has found probable cause, but are not yet adjudicated.
(2) Alleged offenders shall be informed of their right to the advice and assistance of private counsel or the public defender at all stages of the diversion process, including the initial decision to participate, and the decision to accept the diversion contract, so that the candidate may give his or her informed consent.
(3) The participant shall be informed that his or her selection of the diversion contract is voluntary.
(4) Each State’s Attorney, in cooperation with the Attorney General and the diversion program, shall develop clear criteria for deciding what types of offenses and offenders will be eligible for diversion; however, the State’s Attorney shall retain final discretion over the referral of each case for diversion. The provisions of 33 V.S.A. § 5225(c) and § 5280(e) shall apply.
(5) All information gathered in the course of the diversion process shall be held strictly confidential and shall not be released without the participant’s prior consent (except that research and reports that do not require or establish the identity of individual participants are allowed).
(6) Information related to the present offense that is divulged during the diversion program shall not be used in the prosecutor’s case. However, the fact of participation and success, or reasons for failure may become part of the prosecutor’s records.
(7) The diversion project shall maintain sufficient records so that the reasons for success or failure of the program in particular cases and overall can be investigated by program staff.
(8) Diversion projects shall be set up to respect the rights of participants.
(9) Each participant shall pay a fee to the local juvenile court diversion project. The amount of the fee shall be determined by project officers based upon the financial capabilities of the participant. The fee shall not exceed $150.00. The fee shall be a debt due from the participant, and payment of such shall be required for successful completion of the Program. Notwithstanding 32 V.S.A. § 502(a), fees collected under this subdivision shall be retained and used solely for the purpose of the Court Diversion Program.
(d) The Attorney General is authorized to accept grants and gifts for the purposes of this section, such acceptance being pursuant to 32 V.S.A. § 5.
(e)(1) Within 30 days after the two-year anniversary of a successful completion of juvenile diversion, the court shall provide notice to all parties of record of the court’s intention to order the expungement of all court files and records, law enforcement records other than entries in the juvenile court diversion program’s centralized filing system, fingerprints, and photographs applicable to the proceeding. The court shall give the State’s Attorney an opportunity for a hearing to contest the expungement of the records. The court shall expunge the records if it finds:
(A) two years have elapsed since the successful completion of juvenile diversion by the participant and the dismissal of the case by the State’s Attorney;
(B) the participant has not been convicted of a subsequent felony or misdemeanor during the two-year period, and no proceedings are pending seeking such conviction;
(C) rehabilitation of the participant has been attained to the satisfaction of the court; and
(D) the participant does not owe restitution related to the case under a contract executed with the Restitution Unit.
(2) The court may expunge any records that were sealed pursuant to this subsection 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 subdivision, the court shall provide written notice of its intent to expunge the record to the State’s Attorney’s office that prosecuted the case.
(3)(A) The court shall keep a special index of cases that have been expunged pursuant to this section 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.
(B) The special index and related documents specified in subdivision (A) of this subdivision (3) shall be confidential and shall be physically and electronically segregated in a manner that ensures confidentiality and that limits access to authorized persons.
(C) Inspection of the expungement order and the certificate 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.
(D) The Court Administrator shall establish policies for implementing this subsection (e).
(f) Except as otherwise provided in this section, upon the entry of an order expunging files and records under this section, the proceedings in the matter shall be considered never to have occurred, all index references thereto shall be deleted, and the participant, the court, and law enforcement officers and departments shall reply to any request for information that no record exists with respect to such participant inquiry in any matter. Copies of the order shall be sent to each agency or official named therein.
(g) The process of automatically expunging records as provided in this section shall only apply to those persons who completed diversion on or after July 1, 2002. Any person who completed diversion prior to July 1, 2002 must apply to the court to have his or her records expunged. Expungement shall occur if the requirements of subsection (e) of this section are met.
(h) Subject to the approval of the Attorney General, the Vermont Association of Court Diversion Programs may develop and administer programs to assist persons under this section charged with delinquent, criminal, and civil offenses.
(i) Notwithstanding subdivision (c)(1) of this section, the diversion program may accept cases from the Youth Substance Awareness Safety Program pursuant to 7 V.S.A. § 656 or 18 V.S.A. § 4230b. The confidentiality provisions of this section shall become effective when a notice of violation is issued under 7 V.S.A. § 656(b) or 18 V.S.A. § 4230b(b) and shall remain in effect unless the person fails to register with or complete the Youth Substance Awareness Safety Program.
(j) Notwithstanding subdivision (c)(1) of this section, the diversion program may accept cases pursuant to 33 V.S.A. §§ 5225-5280. (Added 1981, No. 206 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1995, No. 47, § 1, eff. April 20, 1995; 1999, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2003, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 11; 2005, No. 198 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. Sept. 1, 2006; 2007, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 28; 2009, No. 12, § 1; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § E.201; 2018, No. 8 (Sp. Sess.), § 10, eff. June 28, 2018; 2019, No. 77, § 1, eff. June 19, 2019; 2019, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. Oct. 7, 2020.)