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Vermont Judicial Bureau

Frequently Asked Questions


Judicial Bureau

Civil
expand  Does Vermont inform other states about points, suspensions, and disqualifications?
expand  If I do not appear for the hearing, will I be arrested?
No. If the law enforcement officer appears and you do not, the Judicial Bureau Hearing Officer will enter a default judgment for the State. 23 VSA 2304(e). You will be assessed the fine and points stated on the civil violation complaint. The Judicial Bureau will mail you a notice stating the deadline for paying the fine. If you do not pay the fine on time, the Judicial Bureau will notify DMV of your non-compliance of the courts order and will request the Commissioner of the Department of Motor Vehicles to suspend your privilege to drive a motor vehicle in Vermont.
   
 
expand  Is a civil violation a crime?
expand  May I have a trial by jury?

If you deny the violation a hearing shall be held before a hearing officer and conducted in an impartial manner.  The burden of proof shall be on the state or municipality to prove the allegations by clear and convincing evidence.  4 V.S.A. §1106

 

A decision of the hearing officer may be appealed to the district court.  The proceeding before the district court shall be on the record, or at the option of the defendant, de novo.  If you wish a trial by jury you must request this in writing.  An appeal shall stay payment of a penalty but not the imposition of points.  4 V.S.A. §1107

 

A non-refundable $100 filing fee for an appeal must be submitted with your written appeal.  If you are unable to pay the filing fee, you may file a written request for waiver of the appeal fee. Contact the Judicial Bureau for the appropriate form.  32 V.S.A. §1431(g)

   
 
expand  May I hire a lawyer to represent me?
expand  May I talk with the prosecutor about the case before going to court?
Yes. The law enforcement officer that issued the civil violation complaint is the prosecutor. You and the law enforcement officer may communicate about the case at any time. If you received a civil violation complaint for operating without liability insurance and you have proof of insurance, you may want to provide your proof to the law enforcement officer before going to court. The name of the law enforcement officer is on the civil violation complaint.
   
 
expand  Must I answer a Vermont Civil Violation Complaint within 20 days?
expand  Must I go to court after receiving a Vermont Civil Violation Complaint?
You have a choice. If you plead "ADMITTED" or "NO CONTEST", you may pay the fine without going to court. If you plead "DENIED", at least one court appearance will be required. 23 VSA 2304.  Before answering the complaint read all the information contained on the white and pink copies handed to you by the issuing officer.
 
   
 
expand  Must I notify the Judicial Bureau if my address changes?
expand  Referred to Collection Agency?
State law 4 V.S.A. § 1109(d) and 13 V.S.A. § 7171 authorizes the Court Administrator to refer past-due judgments to a designated collection agency. If your judgment has been referred to a collection agency, you must provide payment through that agency. Payments sent directly to the Judicial Bureau (cash, check or credit card) will not be accepted. In addition to past-due judgments you will be responsible for any associated collection agency fees. If you have been referred to the designated collection agency, you may contact them for more information:
Alliance One
6565 Kimball Drive
Suite 200
PO Box 2449
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
253-620-2222 or 800-456-8838
www.payaoi.com
 
   
 
expand  What if I have a request of the Court?
expand  What if I need more time to pay my fine?

You may request an extension of time to pay a fine.  Your request must be in writing and signed.  The request must include your name, address, DOB, phone number, complaint number, and the reason why an extension of time to pay is needed.  A minimum partial payment of $30 must be included with your request.  An extension of time to pay will not be granted without a minimum partial payment of $30.00. 

 

Mail your request to the Vermont Judicial Bureau, PO Box 607, White River Junction, VT 05001.  To avoid late fees a request for an extension of time to pay must reach the court on or before your due date. 

 

For your convenience, you may use court form #423, Request for Extension of Time to Pay Fine, by clicking here.

expand  What is a Vermont Civil Violation Complaint?
expand  What is my chance of winning in the Judicial Bureau?
The State has the burden of proving its allegations by clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence means evidence which establishes the truth of the facts asserted is highly probable. The State's burden of proof in a civil violation case is lower than the burden in a criminal case and higher than in an ordinary civil case. Depending on the facts and the law involved in your case, you may have a high or low chance of success at the Judicial Bureau. If you are having difficulty deciding whether to contest the complaint, you may want to consult an attorney.
   
 
expand  What is the difference between "NO CONTEST" or "ADMITTED"?
expand  What is the difference between the Judicial Bureau and the Department of Motor Vehicles?
The Judicial Bureau is within the Judicial Branch of Government. The clerk's office is at the Courthouse in White River Junction. The Judicial Bureau dockets civil violation complaints, schedules hearings, and receives fine payments.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is within the Executive Branch of Government and maintains your driving record and issues suspensions. If you want to pay a reinstatement fee, ask about your accumulation of points, or find out whether you are under suspension, call the DMV in Montpelier at 802-828-2050 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
 
   
 
expand  What is the next step?
expand  What will happen if I plead "DENIED"?
The Judicial Bureau will mail you and the law enforcement officer a notice of hearing. The notice will state the time, date, and location for the hearing. A hearing is a trial by judge. At the hearing, the law enforcement officer will testify about the case, and then you may testify. You and the law enforcement officer may bring witnesses and exhibits. After receiving all the evidence, the judge will make a decision. The judge may tell you the decision immediately or mail a written decision on a later date. If the judge decides the case in your favor, you will not be fined or assessed points. If you contest the complaint and the State prevails in the proceedings, you will be assessed a $50.00 court fee and may be assessed witness fees in addition to any fines and surcharge. 32 VSA 1431(f), 1433, and 1471. Also, any applicable points will be placed on your driving record.
   
 
expand  Where do I send my payment and who do I make the check payable to?
expand  Who decides the amount of my fine?
A panel of three Judicial Bureau Hearing Officers determines the amount of the waiver fines. 23 VSA 2302(d). The waiver fine and surcharge shown on the front of the civil violation complaint is the amount you pay to settle your case by pleading "NO CONTEST" or "ADMITTED"  and waiving your right to a hearing. Most people are required to use safety belts. The law enforcement officer may have added $25.00, $50.00 or $75.00 to the base waiver fine if you or a passenger failed to use an available safety belt. 23 VSA 1259.
If you plead "DENIED" and have a hearing, the judge will decide the amount of your fine. Commonly, the fine after a hearing is the same as the waiver fine, but sometimes is higher or lower depending on the facts of your case, your driving record, and your ability to pay. In addition to a fine, you will be assessed a surcharge, a $50.00 court fee, and possibly witness fees. The surcharge is used for law enforcement training and victims' programs. As of July 1, 2009 the surcharge is $41.00 plus 15% of the base fine. 13 VSA 7282.
 
   
 
expand  Who decides the amount of my points?
expand  Will I be disqualified from driving commercial vehicles?
If you are convicted of 2 serious traffic violations within 3 years, you will be disqualified for 60 days. If you are convicted of 3 serious traffic violations within 3 years, you will be disqualified for 120 days. 23 VSA 4116(d). When operating a commercial vehicle, serious traffic violations include speeding 15 mph or more over the speed limit, driving in a careless and negligent or reckless manner, changing lanes improperly, following too closely, and violating traffic control laws in connection with an accident resulting in death. 23 VSA 4103(16).
   
 
expand  Will I receive extra points for having an accident?
  Municipal
expand  How Do I respond to the complaint?
expand  If I do not appear at the hearing, will I be arrested?
No. If the municipal official appears and you do not, the Judicial Bureau Hearing Officer will enter default judgment for the municipality. 24 VSA 1978(e). You will be assessed the penalty stated on the complaint. The Judicial Bureau will mail you a notice stating the deadline for paying the penalty. If you do not pay the penalty on time, the municipality may use all lawful civil remedies to collect the penalty and enforce the bureau's order. 24 VSA 1981.
   
 
expand  If I plead "ADMIT or DO NOT CONTEST", may I have extra time to pay the penalty?
expand  If I plead "DENY", may I explain my case to a hearing officer by mail or telephone?
No. Hearing officers will not communicate with you about the facts of the case unless you and the municipal official appear at a scheduled hearing after entering a DENY plea.
   
 
expand  Is a Municipal Violation a Crime?
expand  May I have a trial by jury?
The first trial is a hearing by hearing officer. You or the municipality may appeal the hearing officer's decision. If you appeal, you may file a written request for a jury trial. Vermont law requires the bureau to charge a $75.00 non-refundable fee for each appeal. If you are truly unable to pay the fee, you may file an In Forma Pauperis.  Contact the Judicial Bureau for a form. You do not have to pay the penalty during the appeal. 24 VSA 1980(a).
   
 
expand  May I hire a lawyer?
expand  May I review a copy of the municipal ordinance?
Yes. The ordinance is identified on the complaint. You may review a copy of the ordinance at the city, town or village clerk's office in the municipality where the violation occurred.
 
   
 
expand  May I talk with the prosecutor before appearing at the bureau?
expand  Must I answer the municipal complaint within 20 days?
Yes. If you fail to return a copy of the complaint with your plea within 20 days, the bureau will enter judgment and assess the waiver penalty shown on the complaint. If you do not deny the violation, enter a plea of "ADMIT or DO NOT CONTEST" and pay the penalty. If you deny the violation, enter a plea of "DENY"and a hearing will be scheduled. 24 VSA 1978(a).  Before answering the complaint read all the information contained on the back of the complaint.
   
 
expand  Must I appear at the Judicial Bureau after receiving a municipal complaint?
expand  Must I notify the Judicial Bureau if my address changes?
Yes. The Judicial Bureau will mail all notices to the address shown on the complaint, unless you notify the Judicial Bureau about your new address.
   
 
expand  What if I have a request of the Court?
expand  What is a Municipal Complaint?
A complaint is a written allegation by a municipal official claiming a person or organization violated a municipal ordinance. Municipal ordinances pertain to animal control, public nuisances, junkyards, recycling, liquor control, health regulation, zoning and many other situations. 24 VSA 1971-1981 or Municipal Charter.
   
 
expand  What is my chance of winning in Judicial Bureau?
expand  What will happen if I plead "DENY"?
The bureau will mail you and the municipal official a notice of hearing. The notice will state the time, date and location for the hearing. A hearing is a trial by hearing officer. At the hearing, the municipality will offer testimony about the case, and then you may testify. You and the municipality may bring witnesses and exhibits. After receiving all the evidence, the hearing officer will make a decision. The hearing officer may tell you the decision immediately or mail a written decision on a later date. If the hearing officer decides the case in your favor, you will not be penalized. If the hearing officer decides in the municipality's favor, you will be penalized. The penalty commonly is the same as shown on the complaint, but may be higher or lower depending on the facts of your case, your record of other violations and your ability to pay.   Note:  If you are under the age of 18 at the time of your scheduled hearing you will need  to have a parent or guardian present.