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Introduced by   Representatives Donahue of Northfield, Andrews of Rutland City, Errecart of Shelburne, Koch of Barre Town, McAllister of Highgate, Milkey of Brattleboro and Pugh of S. Burlington

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Crimes and criminal procedure; criminal procedure generally; insanity as a defense

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to amend the hospitalization processes for criminal defendants who, before their criminal trial, are ordered by the court to receive inpatient mental health treatment and who must, in connection with a plea of insanity, undergo a court-ordered forensic psychiatric examination at a designated hospital.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 4815 is amended to read:


(a)  It is the purpose of this section to provide a mechanism by which a defendant is examined in the least restrictive environment deemed sufficient to complete the examination and prevent unnecessary pre-trial detention and substantial threat of physical violence to any person, including a defendant.

(b)  The order for examination may provide for an examination at any jail, correctional center, hospital designated by the commissioner of health for forensic examinations pursuant to chapter 177 of Title 18, or at such other place as the court shall determine, after hearing a recommendation by the commissioner of health.

(c)  A motion for examination shall be made as soon as practicable after a party or the court has good faith reason to believe that there are grounds for an examination. An attorney making such a motion shall be subject to the potential sanctions of Rule 11 of the Vermont Rules of Civil Procedure.

(d)  Upon the making of a motion for examination, the court shall order a mental health screening to be completed by a designated mental health professional while the defendant is still at the court.

(e)  If the screening cannot be commenced and completed at the courthouse within two hours from the time of the defendant's appearance before the court, the court may forego consideration of the screener's recommendations.

(f)  The court and parties shall review the recommendation of the designated mental health professional and consider the facts and circumstances surrounding the charge and observations of the defendant in court. If the court finds sufficient facts to order an examination, it may be ordered to be completed in the least restrictive environment deemed sufficient to complete the examination, consistent with subsection (a) of this section.

(g)(1)  Inpatient examination at the state hospital or a designated hospital. The court shall not order an inpatient examination unless the designated mental health professional and the medical doctor responsible for admitting the defendant to the hospital determines that the defendant is a person in need of treatment as defined in 18 V.S.A. § 7101(17).

(2)  Before ordering the inpatient examination, the court shall also determine what terms, if any, shall govern the defendant's release from custody under sections 7553-7554 of this title once the examination has been completed.

(3)  An order for inpatient examination shall provide for placement of the defendant in the custody and care of the commissioner of health for not more than 30 days from the date of the order, and the defendant shall be returned to court for further appearance as soon as the examination has been completed, if ordered by the court. If a return to court is ordered, such return shall occur within 48 hours of the commissioner's request within 24 hours of notice by the hospital that the defendant is no longer in need of inpatient hospitalization based on the terms determined by the court in subdivision (g)(2) of this subsection.  The commissioner shall have the authority to determine the most clinically appropriate designated hospital for the examination and, based on the most clinically appropriate determination, may transfer the defendant between designated hospitals at any time while the order is in effect.

(4)  If a return to court is not ordered and the defendant is not in the custody of the commissioner of corrections, the defendant shall be returned to the defendant's residence or such other appropriate place within the state of Vermont by the department of health at the expense of the court.

(5)  If it appears that an inpatient examination cannot reasonably be completed within 30 days, the court issuing the original order, on request of the commissioner and upon good cause shown may order placement at the hospital extended for additional periods of 15 days in order to complete the examination, and the defendant on the expiration of the period provided for in such order shall be returned in accordance with this subsection.

(6)(5)  Persons committed to the care and custody of the commissioner for purposes of examination or examined elsewhere under this section shall be given medical care and treatment in accordance with accepted standards of

medical care and practice, to the extent facilities and personnel are available for this purpose.

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Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont