A person acquires a criminal record in Vermont the first time they are arrested and fingerprinted by law enforcement in the state. All subsequent felony and misdemeanor convictions will be added to the person’s Vermont criminal record, typically referred to as a “criminal conviction record” in the state.
Criminal records are accessible to the general public in Vermont and can be searched using the fee-based search service VCCRIS, which is provided by the Vermont Crime Information Center (VCIC), a division of the Vermont Department of Public Safety that maintains the state’s central repository of criminal history record information.
What is a criminal record?
A criminal record is an official document detailing a person’s criminal convictions, pending criminal cases, prior arrests, and other interactions with law enforcement agencies. Additional names for a criminal record include criminal history record, rap sheet, and a police record.
As with marriage records and court records, criminal records are generally public records in the United States and can be accessed through a criminal background check. However, public access to specific criminal record information varies from state to state.
In the State of Vermont, criminal records are public records. Members of the general public can obtain the record of any person in exchange for paying a fee.
What is included in a Vermont criminal record?
As criminal records are kept by law enforcement agencies at all levels of government in the United States, a Vermont criminal record may vary in format and content depending on the law enforcement database from which it is accessed.
Generally, a Vermont criminal record will include the following information:
- A person’s full name and possible aliases
- Age and date of birth
- Misdemeanor criminal offenses and convictions
- Felony criminal offenses and convictions
- Past and outstanding arrest warrants
However, a Vermont criminal record obtained through VCCRIS will not contain the following:
- Cases where prosecution was declined
- Pending and dismissed charges
- Juvenile and family court cases
- Sealed or expunged cases
- Personal identifying information such as sex, ethnicity, height, weight, and other physical characteristics
- Fingerprints or mugshots
Why would someone access a criminal record?
There are many reasons to access a criminal record.
- Most commonly, people search criminal records as a way to run a background check on a particular person.
- They’re also used by law enforcement to identify or locate people involved in unsolved crimes or by the court system to determine an appropriate sentence after a conviction.
- An individual may want to access his or her own record as well. It’s not uncommon for people to request their own criminal records to see what information is public.
- In some cases, a record could be inaccurate or include outdated information. If that’s the case, it’s important to have the record corrected.
What’s the difference between an infraction, misdemeanor, and felony?
Arrests and convictions listed on a criminal record are separated into three categories: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.
To give a better understanding of the information listed on a criminal record, here’s a quick overview of each category of offense:
- Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is usually just a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering.
- Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, yet less serious than a felony. Generally, a misdemeanor punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or by a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than in a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
- Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime, often characterized by the use of a weapon during a crime, serious injury to a victim, and/or holding a person against their will. Felony convictions typically result in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and grand theft.
What is the difference between a Vermont arrest record and a Vermont criminal record?
While an arrest record is an official document including the details of a specific arrest, a criminal record is a more comprehensive document that includes a person’s entire criminal background known to law enforcement agencies.
How do I search for a Vermont criminal record?
The Vermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service (VCCRIS) is a fee-based service that can be used to look up the Vermont criminal record of any person. Criminal records are called criminal conviction records on the website.
Here’s an overview of VCCRIS:
- A single search request costs $30, which is payable by debit or credit card. Searches are non-refundable even if no record is found.
- Certain organizations, including educational institutions and vulnerable populations agencies, may submit record requests without paying a fee.
- Required search fields include Last Name, First Name, and Date of Birth.
- Search results are instantaneous, yielding either a criminal record for the subject or a “no record” message.
How do I obtain a physical copy of a Vermont criminal record?
After performing a criminal background check using VCCRIS, you must print the record on your own in order to have a physical copy.
Why can’t I access a Vermont criminal record?
If a VCCRIS search yields a “no record” message, there are several possibilities:
- The search subject does not have a criminal record in Vermont.
- The subject’s criminal convictions have been sealed, expunged, or were committed as a juvenile.
- The subject’s criminal record is listed under a different name or alias.
How do I search for Vermont criminal case court records?
Vermont court records and court calendar information can be searched using Vermont Courts Online. Using the service requires individuals to pay a $12.50 activation fee, which covers five real-time docket lookups. However, detailed information about civil and criminal cases is not accessible through using the service.
You may be able to access criminal case court records by making a direct request to the court clerk of the court that processed the case. Visit Vermont Judiciary: Requests for Access to Court Records in order to learn the proper procedure for requesting case records.
Contact information and addresses for all Vermont district courts can be found using the Vermont Judiciary Contact Directory.
Does Vermont allow criminal records to be sealed or expunged?
Vermont state law allows individuals to petition to have criminal charges to be sealed or expunged by court order. Expungement means that the record will be permanently destroyed while sealing means that it will be moved to a different file and restricted from public access.
The sealing and expungement processes vary between court jurisdictions. Visit vcic.vermont.gov for more information on eligibility and instructions on how to petition for sealing/expungement.
How can I have false information on a Vermont criminal record corrected?
In certain cases, the subject of a criminal record is eligible to challenge the information on the record if they believe it is inaccurate or that it contains falsely attributed arrests as a result of identity theft.
Call the Vermont Crime Information Center at 802-244-8727 for instructions on how to proceed with a challenge.
How long are Vermont criminal records kept on file?
Vermont criminal history record information is maintained indefinitely and will remain accessible to the general public unless a successful motion to seal or expunge convictions is passed in a Vermont court.