Vermont started keeping records back in 1776 in all 14 counties. Property records were some of the first records kept, but they grew to births, death, and marriages. Over the years, the records have gone from paper files to digital files, which makes them easier to access.
While records are more accessible, the process to obtain them can still be difficult. To help citizens navigate the public records system in the state of Vermont, this guide can help. You’ll find specific information on where to find specific records, including criminal, inmate, court, and vital records, and how to go about accessing them in the easiest way possible.
Table of Contents
- 1 What does the Vermont public records law say?
- 2 How can a person access public records in Vermont?
- 3 Vermont criminal records
- 4 Vermont inmate records
- 5 Vermont court records
- 6 Vermont vital records
- 7 Frequently asked questions about Vermont records
What does the Vermont public records law say?
Under the state’s Vermont Records Laws, the Department of Public Service must provide access to its records unless there are specific exemptions stating otherwise. The Public Records Act in Vermont was a result of the Watergate scandal and ensures that free and open examination of records held by state agencies is met, transparency and accountability are practiced, and better decision-making procedures are practiced by government agencies in order to recognize the rights of individuals to privacy.
There are some records created by the Vermont legislature and judicial branches that the state has deemed exempt from public access. The attorney general has ruled in favor of keeping these legislative records sealed.
Under the law, there is a stated time frame with a list of procedures to be adhered to, authorizing any aggrieved person the ability to make a challenge in court if denied access to records. The Vermont Supreme Court has liberally construed this law, noting that the identity of the requester is irrelevant when it comes to deciding whether or not to provide documents.
How can a person access public records in Vermont?
In some cases, government records can be found online. In other cases, a public records request must be sent via email, mail, or by phone to the record-holding department.
Every department is different, so expect some variation to the rules if you’re accessing records from multiple places.
In general, a public records request should include:
- Your name and contact information, including an email, phone number, and mailing address
- The name of the document you want access to with as much detail as possible
- A specific time period that you’d like to receive the materials by
- How to deliver the documents, whether by email or mail
Due to COVID-19, if you have public interest in records, be aware that some public offices may have limited hours of operation. As a result, online requests are best, but if you want to go in person you should call ahead.
More information can be found on the state website, Vermont.gov.
Vermont criminal records
In the state of Vermont, criminal records are most typically utilized by employers who are executing background checks on potential employees. In order to assist employees in searching for a person’s criminal records, we have provided some information and resources below.
What’s on a criminal record?
A criminal record provides a detailed record of a person’s interactions with law enforcement. These records are pulled from various sources and include arrest records, convictions, and incarcerations within the state’s four prisons.
More specifically, a criminal record or a background check will provide the following information:
- Personal information like a person’s name, birthday, nationality, etc.
- A mugshot and full set of fingerprints
- A list of distinguishing features like tattoos and other physical attributes
- The type of offense (misdemeanor or felony) and description of the crime
Where can a person find Vermont criminal records?
- Resource: Vermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service (VCCRIS)
The criminal records in Vermont are official documents that are provided through the Vermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service, a division of the Vermont Department of Public Safety. Under this service, users are able to purchase criminal conviction records from the Vermont Crime Information Center.
The information contained in these files are usually gathered from several sources and are then organized in personal record depositories that are available to the general public for a criminal background report. These records include any misdemeanor and felony crimes, as well as any subsequent arrests, indictments, and/or convictions of their alleged involvement. A request for criminal conviction history records costs $30 each, which is non-refundable, whether or not a records search produces any actual records.
Vermont inmate records
Inmate records in Vermont consist of offenders that are incarcerated within the state and correctional facilities, detailing inmate-specific data like sentencing, offense class, parish information, and the location of the inmate.
What’s on an inmate record?
The information listed on an inmate record varies, but in Vermont the records usually contain a combination of personal information and specific details about a person’s incarceration situation.
A public records database can provide the following information when accessed:
- Personal information like a person’s name, birthdate, and gender
- A mug shot
- Inmate location
- Inmate registration number
- Jail transfer information
- Custody status
Where can a person find Vermont inmate records?
- Resource: Vermont Department of Corrections
The Vermont Department of Corrections is in charge of maintaining all inmate records in correctional facilities throughout the state. You can easily access inmate information using the VTDOC website’s offender locator, which allows anyone the possibility of viewing information about inmates, including booking details, location, and identification numbers. Inmates can be searched by name, alias(es), and DOC number. Released offenders can also be found utilizing this tool.
Vermont court records
Court records in the state of Vermont contain a wealth of information that is produced via court proceedings across the state. Those that are requesting court records can use the resources below to ensure the most efficient methods. Keep in mind that records can be hard to access as they are typically held across several state courts within the state of Vermont.
What’s on a court record?
In the majority of cases, court records are quite large and come with several varying documents. Most people find these documents the most helpful:
- Court minutes
- Case files
- Orders of the court
- Judgment documentation
- Jury records and files
- Witness documentation
Where can a person find Vermont court records?
The majority of records in the state of Vermont are held at the local court clerk’s office, but many cases can be found online. VT Courts Online was developed by the Vermont Judiciary in order to allow requesters to access public information through the internet.
Through this portal, anyone can search for case by case docket number, the name of the litigant in a case, or through court calendars. Currently, ONLY civil division cases are accessible by the general public. For other cases, like those heard in superior courts, you need to request records from the court clerk.
Vermont vital records
Since 1857, the state of Vermont has required all of its town to record all births, marriages and deaths. These vital records have been used to research and monitor the health of its residents and includes the other vital records: civil unions, divorces, dissolutions, fetal deaths, adn abortions.
What information is needed to request a vital record?
A request for information can be done via Health Statistics and Vital Records site, where interested parties can provide relevant information about a specific record. This information may include:
- The location of the event
- The approximate date of the event
- The full name of the person, including maiden names
- A case file number for divorce records
- The license number for a marriage record
Where can a person find Vermont vital records?
- Resource: Vermont Department of Health
In order to access the vital records in the state, requesters can go through the registry that is maintained by the Vermont Department of Health. Also, Vermonters can access the vital records through the MyVermont.gov state portal. Accounts there are free to set up and can easily facilitate a request, like a request for a certified birth certificate.
Frequently asked questions about Vermont records
To further assist Vermont citizens in their search for public records within the state, here’s a list of commonly asked questions:
Can a request be submitted by non-residents of the state?
Yes. Whether you live in Burlington, Montpelier, or New York City or nowhere near a New England State, anyone can conduct a public records search.
Is there a records custodian in Vermont?
What exemptions exist?
With 40 general exemptions, Vermont works under the type that are more specific and to be construed rather narrowly. Most of these are common throughout the state’s Freedom of Information laws.
How long does that state have to respond?
Agencies in Vermont have 2 business days to respond to any requests, although this can be extended by up to 10 days with a written notification.
Is there an appeals process in place?
Yes. However, Vermont’s public records law says a requester must be able to show that without litigation, the records would not likely be disclosed, plus any public benefits associated with the release of the documents. It is advisable to appeal sooner as chances to overturn an appeal are slimmer after 2 years.
What fees are associated with requesting public records?
There are nominal fees associated with requesting public records in Vermont, with staff time fees kicking in after half an hour of search time. A public agency can only charge the actual cost to reproduce records.