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Vermont Court Records

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What Are Vermont Specialty Courts?

The Vermont State Judiciary operates  Treatment Court Dockets and Specialty Dockets throughout the state. These dockets give persons with substance abuse conditions and mental illness the opportunity to receive treatment. Specialty dockets provide this method to avoid consequences such as imprisonment or discontinuance of parental rights.

These dockets’ overall goal is reformative: to keep the communities safe, support treatment for participants, and eliminate delinquent behavior.  

The Treatment Court Dockets and Specialty Dockets program is mainly created for a particular class of persons, such as juvenile offenders or parents, with pending child welfare cases. These are offenders involved in substance abuse, which has led to abuse disorders or mental illness.

A participant in this program is attached to a team and mandated to appear for court hearings and treatments. Through rewards and punishment for good and bad behavior, the team assists the participant with ending substance abuse and criminal activities.

The participants are also assisted by the court’s Judges and other team members who help these persons pursue a legal means of livelihood, education, and other life-improving goals.

To be eligible, a participant of the Vermont Treatment Court must be:

  • Charged with drug-related offenses or have been convicted of a drug-related offense
  • Likely to repeat the same offense
  • Experiencing severe substance use disorders  

An eligible person may be moved from the traditional courts to a drug court, either before making a plea or after the defendant pleads guilty to the charges. After that, the participant will be placed in the treatment program under court supervision, with the person’s sentence is deferred or suspended.

Upon completion of the program, the participant may have charges dismissed or even expunged. However, if the participant fails to complete the program, the person would be referred to the traditional court system for the case to take the normal course.

The Treatment Court team usually comprises a Judge, a Prosecution Attorney, a Defense Attorney, and a Probation Officer. The program is very intense, and it often includes:

  • Participation over a long period to establish and maintain long-term recovery 
  • Frequent and random drug tests to establish accountability in the effort at building sobriety
  • Substance use disorder treatments
  • Mandatory and frequent appearances in court
  • Rewards for maintaining a treatment plan and punishments for failure to meet obligations
  • Case management services to connect participants to employment opportunities, pro-social activities, and education.

Treatment Courts continuously seek to treat vulnerable people, thereby reducing drug abuse relapse by a large percentage. These courts also help reduce the state’s public expenditure and restore dignity to participants.

The Vermont Judiciary operates four Treatment Court Dockets, including:

  • Chittenden Adult Drug Treatment Court Docket and Adult Mental Health Treatment Docket
  • Rutland Adult Drug Treatment Court Docket
  • Washington Adult Drug Treatment Court Docket
  • Windsor DUI Treatment Docket

The Court and Mental Health Treatment Dockets are voluntary and only cater to defendants above 18 years. The options also serve as post-plea programs that present the defendants with a chance to have sentences reduced or have criminal charges dismissed altogether.

Program participants are usually referred by the defense attorney, the state’s attorney, the department of corrections, or law enforcement agencies. 

While these programs are for persons who have committed crimes due to substance abuse or mental illness, some persons who meet these criteria may be ineligible. Persons who have committed offenses such as violent crimes, sexual assault crimes, and arson may not qualify for any programs.

The Treatment and Mental Health Court Docket team consists of a Judge who leads the team and the attorneys. The team also includes the probation and parole officers, law enforcement agencies, and professional treatment providers. 

To successfully complete the program, a person must take part in treatments, attend court hearings, and follow the program guidelines. For more information, visit the Vermont Judiciary website.

The Vermont Judiciary operates the Windsor DUI Treatment Docket, also known as the Southeast Regional DUI Treatment Docket. This is a post-conviction program for repeat DUI offenders who are over 18 years old, have moderate to severe alcohol dependence, and wish to recover from alcohol dependence. It also affords participants the option of an alcohol treatment program, in exchange for dismissed charges or reduced sentences.

Referrals to the DUI Treatment Docket also come from attorneys, the department of corrections, and law enforcement. The quicker the referral after the offender’s arrest, the higher the participant’s chances of completing the program.

Participants eligible for the program are convicts for offenses not lesser than:

  • A second DUI offense where the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) at the time of arrest was at least 0.15 percent
  • A third or greater DUI offense
  • A third or greater alcohol-related offense

Note that the portion of the sentence to be reduced should not be less than 15 months or more than 24 months. 

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