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Vermont Criminal Law: An Overview

While it's easy to trust your case to an attorney who knows the ins and outs of Vermont's criminal laws, you could benefit from learning about the laws affecting your case. You could avoid running into more legal issues like revealing too much information while talking to the police without an attorney present. You could also better understand your legal rights for seeking damages or reducing your sentence.

Use LawInfo's criminal law articles to help educate yourself about Vermont's laws and how they affect your case. You can learn about the difference between misdemeanors and felonies, intoxicated driving charges and many other state-specific criminal law topics. You can also use LawInfo to connect with a Vermont criminal law attorney in Burlington, Essex, Rutland or elsewhere in the state.

Crime Classifications in Vermont

Every state has its own system of classifying crimes which also identifies the statutory punishments for each classification. Vermont has two main criminal offense classifications, in order of seriousness: felonies and misdemeanors.

Vermont's criminal laws simplify the classifications by identifying offenses that are sentenced to two or more years of imprisonment as felonies. Any other offense that is sentenced to up to two years of imprisonment is a misdemeanor.

There are no additional sub-classifications that identify minimum and maximum ranges of penalties. Instead, every offense possesses its own statutory sentences which, in turn, help to identify them as felonies or misdemeanors.

Vermont Marijuana Offenses

While the possession and use of marijuana for medical treatment have been legalized in Vermont, it is still illegal to possess, farm, distribute or use marijuana for recreational purposes. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance in both federal and state law. (Drugs like heroin and crystal meth are also Schedule I substances.)

Possession offenses are the most common marijuana charges. The seriousness of the charge and the severity of the penalties scale with the amount of marijuana an offender is caught with possessing. The possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a civil violation which isn't recorded in a person's criminal record but is sentenced with:

  • Up to $200 for the first offense.
  • Up to $300 for the second offense.
  • Up to $500 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Possession offenses become more serious misdemeanor and felony charges when an offender possesses more than one ounce of marijuana. The sentences include:

  • Six months of imprisonment and/or up to $500 for the first offense of possessing more than one ounce.
  • Two years of imprisonment and/or up to $2,000 for the second and subsequent offenses of possessing more than once ounce.
  • Three years of imprisonment and/or up to $10,000 for possessing more than two ounces.
  • Five years of imprisonment and/or up to $100,000 for possessing more than one pound.
  • 15 years of imprisonment and/or up to $500,000 for possessing more than 10 pounds.

Vermont Criminal Record Expungement

Crime is often costly in more ways than simply serving time in prison or paying fines. Your employment options and civil liberties may be impacted by even one or two charges on your criminal history record. However, some offenses qualify for expungement or sealing which could help alleviate these personal issues.

Expungement involves erasing specific, qualifying offenses from your criminal record while sealing an offense removes the details of the offense from public access. You can have your qualifying offenses expunged or sealed even if they didn't result in convictions. Qualifying offenses include:

  • Misdemeanors like stalking, manslaughter and robbery. (See the Vermont Statutes Annotated 7601(7) for a complete list.)
  • Sexual exploitation of children.
  • Violating a protection order.
  • Criminal mischief.
  • Grand larceny.
  • Burglary except for burglary inside of an occupied residence.

Having your record expunged or sealed requires either a court's permission or a governor's pardon. It also requires meeting certain conditions, such as completing your sentence if you were convicted and/or allowing the offense's statute of limitations to expire.

Speak to an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Today

This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.

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