Despite basic belief, when a record is expunged it does not fully disappear. An expunged record instead is eliminated from public viewing and cannot be accessed. The records are then sealed and can only be opened for special reasoning, including running for public office or applying to the United States military.
Expunged records can be very beneficial when searching for employment or housing. Once an individual has had his or her records sealed or expunged, he or she is no longer legally required to state in written form that he or she was arrested for an offense.
Only certain records can be expunged in Vermont. Which records can be expunged depends on the law under which they are filed. The fingerprints of juvenile offenders who were not convicted for the crime in which they were arrested or delinquents before reaching the age of sixteen can be expunged under Law 5537. All records -- including court involvement -- files, arrest records, and index records can be expunged under Vermont Laws 7041 and 5537.
In the state of Vermont only certain individuals qualify for expungement. These include those who have completed all the terms of their probations and any deferred sentence agreements after receiving a court discharge. This, however, excludes sex offenders, according to 33 of Vermont Law 7041. Under 33 of Vermont Law 5529 juvenile offenders are eligible for expungement after completing disposition orders and rehabilitation.
In all adult cases no conviction may follow an arrest in order for any individual to qualify. A record can also be eligible for reversal if a court finding leads to conviction reconsideration, leading to finding an individual innocence of the offense. Upon a reconsideration, an individual's attorney may then petition the court for a criminal record reversal.
When an individual is discharged from a crime under 33 Vermont Law 7041, he or she is first require to pay any outstanding restitution before expungement can take place. Under these circumstances, as well as 22 Vermont Law 5529e, record sealing will automatically happen without application to the court. Those who are eligible for expungement, and do not have their records automatically sealed, will need to petition the court that holds their records.
Along with filing paperwork, all the individuals involved in the case will need to be notified, including the prosecuting attorney and presiding judge. A hearing may follow where the individual maybe granted or denied expungement. If an expungement is not found in favor of the court, the record sealing will be denied.
The state of Vermont does not allow any convicted offenders to have their records expunged. These include both felony offenses and misdemeanor offenses. However if a felony or misdemeanor offense is deferred, an individual may qualify for expungement if the case was dismissed in court and terms completed.
Juvenile felony offenses and misdemeanor offense can be expunged if the individuals first meet all the necessary requirements. Driving under the influence convictions also cannot be expunged from an individual's record. However juvenile cases of driving under the influence can be sealed if all requirements are satisfied. See also:
Vermont Felony External link (opens in new window)
Vermont Gun Laws External link (opens in new window)
Vermont Divorce External link (opens in new window)