ACT NO. 185
Juvenile judicial proceedings
This act reorganizes the laws that address court procedure for delinquent and abused and neglected children to provide better clarity, making the statutes more user-friendly for both the legal practitioner and lay parties to the proceedings. The body of juvenile case law developed over the last 30 years is preserved by maintaining the language and statutory phrases upon which the precedent is based while incorporating current Vermont practices that were not in statute and national best practices, including:
1. Identifying clear standards for removing a child from the home.
2. Permitting a child to remain in a home subject to court-ordered conditions and monitoring by the department for children and families and allowing the court to issue protective orders.
3. Identifying and locating noncustodial parents early in the judicial process.
4. Prioritizing the temporary placement of children with kin before considering a transfer of legal custody of a child to the state.
5. Addressing parent-child contact at each stage of the proceedings.
6. Increasing frequency of court reviews to ensure compliance with a childs case plan.
7. Decreasing the time between a delinquent incident and adjudication.
8. Extending jurisdiction of youthful offenders until age 22.
The commissioner of the department for children and families is required to develop policies applicable when the department knows or learns that a sexual assault perpetrator and his or her victim have been simultaneously placed at the facility.
The act requires several reports back to the general assembly. The department for children and families is required to report no later than March 1, 2009 on issues relating to accommodating children and parents with disabilities with respect to juvenile judicial proceedings. The center for crime victim services is required to report no later than January 15, 2012 on the implementation and operation of the juvenile restitution provisions established by the act. The act establishes the juvenile jurisdiction policy and operations coordinating council in order to plan and develop the steps advisable better to address age-appropriate responses to older youth within the juvenile justice system. The council is directed to report to the house and senate committees on judiciary on or before December 15, 2008. The report may consider the juvenile justice jurisdiction study submitted to the agency of human services in December 2007 as well as other relevant information and recommend any changes to Vermont juvenile justice jurisdiction policy the council decides are advisable. The council is required to develop an implementation plan for each of the following options:
(A) Maintaining the current jurisdiction statute and continuing jurisdiction of the family court in delinquency proceedings until age 22.
(B) Changing the initial court of jurisdiction in all misdemeanor proceedings to the family court, with the possibility to be waived to district court, and continuing family court jurisdiction until age 22.
(C) Changing the initial court of jurisdiction in all juvenile proceedings to the family court with the possibility to be waived to district court and continuing family court jurisdiction until age 22.
The act also eliminates a provision of law that exempted an obligor from owing child support while he or she is receiving public assistance benefits.
Effective Date: This act takes effect January 1, 2009 and shall apply to any petition filed after the effective date or any permanency review hearing held after the effective date.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street