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Searching 2023-2024 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

The Vermont Statutes Online does not include the actions of the 2024 session of the General Assembly. We expect them to be updated by November 1st.

NOTE: The Vermont Statutes Online is an unofficial copy of the Vermont Statutes Annotated that is provided as a convenience.

Title 13 : Crimes and Criminal Procedure

Chapter 182 : Innocence Protection

Subchapter 002 : Compensation for Wrongful Convictions

(Cite as: 13 V.S.A. § 5574)
  • § 5574. Burden of proof; judgment; damages

    (a) A claimant shall be entitled to judgment in an action under this subchapter if the claimant establishes each of the following by clear and convincing evidence:

    (1) The complainant was convicted of a felony crime, was sentenced to a term of imprisonment, and served at least six months of the sentence in a correctional facility.

    (2)(A) the complainant’s conviction was reversed or vacated, the complainant’s information or indictment was dismissed, or the complainant was acquitted after a second or subsequent trial; or

    (B) the complainant was pardoned for the crime for which he or she was sentenced.

    (3) The complainant is actually innocent of the felony or felonies that are the basis for the claim. As used in this chapter, a person is “actually innocent” of a felony or felonies if he or she did not engage in any illegal conduct alleged in the charging documents for which he or she was charged, convicted, and imprisoned.

    (4) The complainant did not fabricate evidence or commit or suborn perjury during any proceedings related to the crime with which he or she was charged.

    (b) A claimant awarded judgment in an action under this subchapter shall be entitled to damages in an amount to be determined by the trier of fact for each year the claimant was incarcerated, provided that the amount of damages shall not be less than $30,000.00 nor greater than $60,000.00 for each year the claimant was incarcerated, adjusted proportionally for partial years served. The damage award may also include:

    (1) economic damages, including lost wages and costs incurred by the claimant for his or her criminal defense and for efforts to prove his or her innocence;

    (2) up to 10 years of eligibility for State-funded health coverage equivalent to Medicaid services;

    (3) compensation for any reasonable reintegrative services and mental and physical health care costs incurred by the claimant for the time period between his or her release from mistaken incarceration and the date of the award;

    (4) reasonable attorney’s fees and costs for the action brought under this subchapter.

    (c) Damages awarded under this section:

    (1) shall not be subject to any State taxes, except for the portion of the judgment awarded as attorney’s fees; and

    (2) shall not be offset by any services awarded to the claimant pursuant to this section or by any expenses incurred by the State or any political subdivision of the State, including expenses incurred to secure or maintain the claimant’s custody or to feed, clothe, or provide medical services for the claimant.

    (d) The claimant’s acceptance of a damages award, compromise, or settlement as a result of a claim under this subchapter shall be in writing and, except when procured by fraud, shall be final and conclusive on the claimant, and constitute a complete release by the claimant of any claim against the State and a complete bar to any action by the claimant against the State with respect to the same subject matter.

    (e) A claimant shall be entitled to compensation under this subchapter only for the years in which he or she would not otherwise have been incarcerated for another sentence. (Added 2007, No. 60, § 1; amended 2013, No. 79, § 16, eff. Jan. 1, 2014; 2013, No. 126 (Adj. Sess.), § 5; 2015, No. 5, § 3, eff. April 9, 2015.)