Changes to Criminal Records Access in Vermont

(Special contribution by Michael Sankey of BRB Publications, Inc.)

Effective July 1, 2008, significant changes are scheduled to take place in Vermont regarding criminal record access at the courts, from the Vermont Criminal Information Center (VCIC), and what will be reported on the VCIC record. These changes are triggered primarily from passage of Senate Bill 246.

Currently, the court fee for a criminal record search at a Vermont county district court is $10.00. Effective July 1, the fee will increase to $30.00 (per county search). Copy fees and certification fees will remain the same.

Currently, the fee for a criminal record search at the VCIC is also $10.00. Currently records are essentially released only to two public groups; the subject; to an employer but only if a conditional offer of employment is made.

Effective July 1, the fee for the state VCIC search will be $20.00 and the restrictions will be removed; records will be open to the public. The fee will increase again in July 2009 to $25.00. Currently all VCIC record requests must be made manually, but there are plans by the VCIC to have Internet access in place by December 2008.

However, there is an important caveat regarding what data will be reported by VCIC as of July 1st. Per the new law, the data reported on the VICI record will be restricted to only include the name, DOB, date of conviction, type of conviction, and offense level. The location of the court, the case docket number, and arrest-only records will not be shown. Thus, if there is a question on the name, a name variation, or common names with possible identical DOBs, one must pay the $30 search fee at each county district court searched to find the docket number in order to access the document file. Only 2 of Vermont’s 14 counties provide public access terminals – Chittenden and Rutland – which may provide a docket look-up.

The Vermont Administrative Office of the Courts and the people at VCIC are sympathetic to the problem. The VCIC has stated they will do everything possible to help narrow down the false positives. They predict a 5-day turnaround time to complete a search.

To view the legislation, go to a Senate Bill 246 (S.246).

What do you think about these changes?
Jimmie Mesis, Editor-in-Chief
PI Magazine

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