The Vermont Statutes Online
Subchapter 002 : PETITION, MERITS, AND DISPOSITION(Cite as: 33 V.S.A. § 5225)
§ 5225. Preliminary hearing; risk assessment
(a) Preliminary hearing. A preliminary hearing shall be held at the time and date specified on the citation or as otherwise ordered by the court. If a child is taken into custody prior to the preliminary hearing, the preliminary hearing shall be at the time of the temporary care hearing. Counsel for the child shall be assigned prior to the preliminary hearing.
(b) Risk and needs screening.
(1) Prior to the preliminary hearing, the child shall be afforded an opportunity to undergo a risk and needs screening, which shall be conducted by the Department or by a community provider that has contracted with the Department to provide risk and need screenings for children alleged to have committed delinquent acts.
(2) If the child participates in such a screening, the Department or the community provider shall report the risk level result of the screening, the number and source of the collateral contacts made, and the recommendation for charging or other alternatives to the State's Attorney. The State's Attorney shall consider the results of the risk and needs screening in determining whether to file a charge. In lieu of filing a charge, the State's Attorney may refer a child directly to a youth-appropriate community-based provider that has been approved by the Department, which may include a community justice center or a balanced and restorative justice program. Referral to a community-based provider pursuant to this subsection shall not require the State's Attorney to file a charge. If the community-based provider does not accept the case or if the child fails to complete the program in a manner deemed satisfactory and timely by the provider, the child's case shall return to the State's Attorney for charging consideration.
(3) If a charge is brought in the Family Division, the risk level result shall be provided to the child's attorney.
(c) Referral to diversion. Based on the results of the risk and needs screening, if a child presents a low to moderate risk to reoffend, the State's Attorney shall refer the child directly to court diversion unless the State's Attorney states on the record why a referral to court diversion would not serve the ends of justice. If the court diversion program does not accept the case or if the child fails to complete the program in a manner deemed satisfactory and timely by the provider, the child's case shall return to the State's Attorney for charging consideration.
(d) Guardian ad litem. At the preliminary hearing, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem for the child. The guardian ad litem may be the child's parent, guardian, or custodian. On its own motion or motion by the child's attorney, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem other than a parent, guardian, or custodian.
(e) Admission; denial. At the preliminary hearing, a denial shall be entered to the allegations of the petition, unless the juvenile, after adequate consultation with the guardian ad litem and counsel, enters an admission. If the juvenile enters an admission, the disposition case plan required by section 5230 of this title may be waived and the court may proceed directly to disposition, provided that the juvenile, the custodial parent, the State's Attorney, the guardian ad litem, and the Department agree.
(f) Conditions. The court may order the child to abide by conditions of release pending a merits or disposition hearing. (Added 2007, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2009; amended 2011, No. 159 (Adj. Sess.), § 6; 2015, No. 153 (Adj. Sess.), § 14; 2017, No. 201 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)