The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 7554c. Pretrial risk assessments; needs screenings
(a)(1) The objective of a pretrial risk assessment is to provide information to the court for the purpose of determining whether a person presents a risk of nonappearance or a risk of re-offense so the court can make an appropriate order concerning bail and conditions of pretrial release. The assessment shall not assess victim safety or risk of lethality in domestic assaults.
(2) The objective of a pretrial needs screening is to obtain a preliminary indication of whether a person has a substantial substance abuse or mental health issue that would warrant a subsequent court order for a more detailed clinical assessment.
(3) Participation in a risk assessment or needs screening pursuant to this section does not create any entitlement for the assessed or screened person.
(b)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, a person who is arrested, lodged, and unable to post bail within 24 hours of lodging shall be offered a risk assessment and, if deemed appropriate by the pretrial services coordinator, a needs screening prior to arraignment.
(2) A person charged with an offense for which registration as a sex offender is required pursuant to chapter 167, subchapter 3 of this title or an offense punishable by a term of life imprisonment shall not be eligible under this section.
(3) Participation in risk assessment or needs screening shall be voluntary and a person's refusal to participate shall not result in any criminal legal liability to the person.
(4) In the event an assessment or screening cannot be obtained prior to arraignment, the risk assessment and needs screening shall be conducted as soon as practicable.
(5) A person who qualifies pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection and who has an additional pending charge or a violation of probation shall not be excluded from being offered a risk assessment or needs screening unless the other charge is a listed crime.
(6) Any person charged with a criminal offense or who is the subject of a youthful offender petition pursuant to 33 V.S.A. § 5280, except those persons identified in subdivision (2) of this subsection, may choose to engage with a pretrial services coordinator.
(c) The results of the risk assessment and needs screening shall be provided to the person and his or her attorney, the prosecutor, and the court. Pretrial services coordinators may share information only within the limitations of subsection (e) of this section.
(d)(1) At arraignment, the court may order a person to do the following:
(A) meet with a pretrial services coordinator on a schedule set by the court;
(B) participate in a needs screening with a pretrial services coordinator; and
(C) participate in a clinical assessment by a substance abuse or mental health treatment provider and follow the recommendations of the provider.
(2) The court may order the person to engage in pretrial services. Pretrial services may include the pretrial services coordinator:
(A) supporting the person in meeting conditions of release imposed by the court, including the condition to appear for judicial proceedings; and
(B) connecting the person with community-based treatment programs, rehabilitative services, recovery supports, and restorative justice programs.
(3) If possible, the court shall set the date and time for the clinical assessment at arraignment. In the alternative, the pretrial services coordinator shall coordinate the date, time, and location of the clinical assessment and advise the court, the person and his or her attorney, and the prosecutor.
(4) An order authorized in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection shall be in addition to any conditions of release permitted by law and shall not limit the court in any way. Failure to comply with a court order authorized by subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection shall not constitute a violation of section 7559 of this title.
(5) This section shall not be construed to limit a court's authority to impose conditions pursuant to section 7554 of this title.
(e)(1) Information obtained from the person during the risk assessment or needs screening shall be exempt from public inspection and copying under the Public Records Act and, except as provided in subdivision (2) of this subsection, only may be used for determining bail, conditions of release, and appropriate programming for the person in the pending case. The information a pretrial services coordinator may report is limited to whether a risk assessment indicates risk of nonappearance, whether further substance use assessment or treatment is indicated, whether mental health assessment or treatment is indicated, whether a person participated in a clinical assessment, and whether further engagement with pretrial services is recommended, unless the person provides written permission to release additional information. Information related to the present offense directly or indirectly derived from the risk assessment, needs screening, or other conversation with the pretrial services coordinator 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 or nonparticipation in risk assessment or needs screening may be used in subsequent proceedings. The immunity provisions of this subsection apply only to the use and derivative use of information gained as a proximate result of the risk assessment, needs screening, or other conversation with the pretrial services coordinator.
(2) The person shall retain all of his or her due process rights throughout the risk assessment and needs screening process and may release his or her records at his or her discretion.
(3) All records of information obtained during risk assessment or needs screening shall be stored in a manner making them accessible only to the Director of Pretrial Services and pretrial service coordinators for a period of three years, after which the records shall be maintained as required by sections 117 and 218 of this title and any other State law. The Director of Pretrial Services shall be responsible for the destruction of records when ordered by the court.
(f) The Attorney General's Office shall:
(1) contract for or otherwise provide the pretrial services described in this section, including performance of risk assessments, needs screenings, and pretrial monitoring services, and
(2) develop pretrial services 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. (Added 2013, No. 179 (Adj. Sess.), § E.339.1; 2013, No. 195 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2015; amended 2015, No. 12, § 2, eff. May 1, 2015; 2015, No. 140 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 25, 2016; 2017, No. 61, § 3; 2019, No. 77, § 19, eff. June 19, 2019.)