The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 33: Human Services

Chapter 52: DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS

Sub-Chapter 02: Petition, Merits, And Disposition

33 V.S.A. § 5229. Merits adjudication



§ 5229. Merits adjudication

(a) The parties at a merits hearing in a delinquency proceeding shall be limited to the state's attorney and the child who is the subject of the petition. A merits adjudication hearing shall not proceed forward unless the child who is the subject of the delinquency petition is present in court.

(b) The State shall have the burden of establishing beyond a reasonable doubt that the child has committed a delinquent act.

(c) If the child who is the subject of the delinquency petition enters an admission to the petition, the Court shall not accept the admission without first addressing the child personally in open court and determining that:

(1) the plea is voluntary;

(2) the child understands the nature of the delinquent act charged, the right to contest the charge, and the rights which will be waived if the admission is accepted by the court; and

(3) there is a factual basis for the delinquent act charged in the petition.

(d) A merits hearing shall be conducted in accordance with the Vermont Rules of Evidence.

(e) If the merits are contested, the Court, after hearing the evidence, shall make its findings on the record.

(f) If the Court finds that the allegations made in the petition have not been established beyond a reasonable doubt, the Court shall dismiss the petition and vacate any orders transferring custody to the State or other person or any conditional custody orders.

(g) If, based on the child's admission or the evidence presented, the Court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the child has committed a delinquent act, the Court shall order the Department to prepare a disposition case plan within 28 days of the merits adjudication and shall set the matter for a disposition hearing. In no event, shall a disposition hearing be held later than 35 days after a finding that a child is delinquent.

(h) The Court may proceed directly to disposition providing that the child, the custodial parent, the state's attorney, and the Department agree. (Added 2007, No. 185 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. Jan. 1, 2009.)