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.
§ 164. Adult court diversion program
(a) The Attorney General shall develop and administer an adult court diversion program in all counties. In consultation with diversion programs, the Attorney General shall adopt a policies and procedures manual in compliance with this section.
(b) The program shall be designed for two purposes:
(1) To assist adults who have been charged with a first or a second misdemeanor or a first nonviolent felony.
(2) To assist persons who have been charged with an offense and who have substance abuse or mental health treatment needs regardless of the person’s prior criminal history record, except a person charged with a felony offense that is a crime listed in 13 V.S.A. § 5301(7) shall not be eligible under this section. Persons who have attained 18 years of age who are subject to a petition in the Family Division pursuant to 33 V.S.A. chapters 52 or 52A shall also be eligible under this section. Programming for these persons is intended to support access to appropriate treatment or other resources with the aim of improving the person’s health and reducing future adverse involvement in the justice system.
(c) The program shall support the operation of diversion programs in local communities through grants of financial assistance to, or contracts for services with, municipalities, private groups, or other local organizations. The Attorney General may require local financial contributions as a condition of receipt of program funding.
(d) The Office of the Attorney General shall develop program outcomes following the designated State of Vermont performance accountability framework and, in consultation with the Department of State’s Attorneys and Sheriffs, the Office of the Defender General, the Center for Crime Victim Services, and the Judiciary, report annually on or before December 1 to the General Assembly on services provided and outcome indicators. As a component of the report required by this subsection, the Attorney General shall include data on diversion program referrals in each county and possible causes of any geographical disparities.
(e) All adult court diversion programs receiving financial assistance from the Attorney General shall adhere to the following provisions:
(1) The diversion program shall accept only persons against whom charges have been filed and the court has found probable cause, but are not yet adjudicated. The prosecuting attorney may refer a person to diversion either before or after arraignment and shall notify in writing the diversion program and the court of his or her intention to refer the person to diversion. The matter shall become confidential when notice is provided to the court, except that for persons who are subject to conditions of release imposed pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 7554 and who are referred to diversion pursuant to subdivision (b)(2) of this section, the matter shall become confidential upon the successful completion of diversion. If a person is charged with a qualifying crime as defined in 13 V.S.A. § 7601(4)(A) and the crime is a misdemeanor, the prosecutor shall provide the person with the opportunity to participate in the court diversion program unless the prosecutor states on the record at arraignment or a subsequent hearing why a referral to the program would not serve the ends of justice. If the prosecuting attorney refers a case to diversion, the prosecuting attorney may release information to the victim upon a showing of legitimate need and subject to an appropriate protective agreement defining the purpose for which the information is being released and in all other respects maintaining the confidentiality of the information; otherwise, files held by the court, the prosecuting attorney, and the law enforcement agency related to the charges shall be confidential and shall remain confidential unless:
(A) the diversion program declines to accept the case;
(B) the person declines to participate in diversion;
(C) the diversion program accepts the case, but the person does not successfully complete diversion; or
(D) the prosecuting attorney recalls the referral to diversion.
(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 adult diversion contract, so that the candidate may give informed consent.
(3) The participant shall be informed that his or her selection of the adult diversion contract is voluntary.
(4) Each State’s Attorney, in cooperation with the Office of the Attorney General and the adult court 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.
(5) All information gathered in the course of the adult 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 establish the identity of individual participants are allowed).
(6) Information related to the present offense that is divulged during the adult diversion program shall not be used against the person in the person’s criminal or juvenile case for any purpose, including impeachment or cross-examination. However, the fact of participation and success, or reasons for failure, may become part of the prosecutor’s records.
(7)(A) Irrespective of whether a record was expunged, the adult court diversion program 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. These records shall include a centralized statewide filing system that will include the following information about individuals who have successfully completed an adult court diversion program:
(i) name and date of birth;
(ii) offense charged and date of offense;
(iii) place of residence;
(iv) county where diversion process took place; and
(v) date of completion of diversion process.
(B) These records shall not be available to anyone other than the participant and his or her attorney, State’s Attorneys, the Attorney General, and directors of adult court diversion programs.
(C) Notwithstanding subdivision (B) of this subdivision (e)(7), the Attorney General shall, upon request, provide to a participant or his or her attorney sufficient documentation to show that the participant successfully completed diversion.
(8) Adult court diversion programs shall be set up to respect the rights of participants.
(9) Each participant shall pay a fee to the local adult court diversion program. The amount of the fee shall be determined by program officers or employees based upon the financial capabilities of the participant. The fee shall not exceed $300.00. 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.
(f) 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.
(g)(1) Within 30 days after the two-year anniversary of a successful completion of adult 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 adult 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 the adult diversion program 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 (g).
(h) 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.
(j) 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 (g) of this section are met.
(k) The Attorney General, in consultation with 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.
(l) Notwithstanding subdivision (e)(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.
(m) Notwithstanding subdivision (e)(1) of this section, the diversion program may accept cases pursuant to 33 V.S.A. §§ 5225 and 5280. (Added 1981, No. 206 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; amended 1983, No. 217 (Adj. Sess.); 1983, No. 229 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 1995, No. 47, § 2, eff. April 20, 1995; 1999, No. 160 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2003, No. 157 (Adj. Sess.), § 12; 2009, No. 12, § 2; 2009, No. 146 (Adj. Sess.), § D6; 2009, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § E.201.1; 2011, No. 56, § 24; 2011, No. 145 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2017, No. 61, § 2; 2018, No. 8 (Sp. Sess.), § 11, eff. June 28, 2018; 2019, No. 77, § 2, eff. June 19, 2019; 2019, No. 124 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2019, No. 167 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Oct. 7, 2020.)