- Vermont Domestic Violence
- Vermont Domestic Violence Laws
- Domestic Assault Crimes and Penalties
- Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1042
- Second-Degree Aggravated Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1044
- First-Degree Aggravated Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1043
- Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
- Need Legal Help? Talk to a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Vermont Domestic Violence
There is no denying the fact that spousal abuse and domestic violence are prevalent throughout the United States. Unfortunately, so are false allegations of abuse. To deter acts of domestic violence, prosecutors and law enforcement officials in Vermont have taken a tough stance against assault offenses involving family and household members and it is not uncommon for innocent people to be arrested and charged with domestic violence. If you find yourself facing criminal charges for domestic assault or aggravated domestic assault, having an experienced defense attorney on your side could mean the difference between going to prison and retaining your freedom. A competent, qualified attorney will work closely with you to ensure that you understand the charges against you and your rights under the law, so you can make the best possible decisions in your case.
Vermont Domestic Violence Laws
Vermont law recognizes domestic violence as a serious crime against society. Under 15 V.S.A. § 1151, domestic violence is defined as an act of abuse or threats of abuse committed against an individual in a domestic situation, i.e. family or household members. Under 15 V.S.A. § 1101, the term “abuse” is defined as one or more of the following acts:
- Causing or attempting to cause physical harm,
- Placing the other person in fear of imminent serious physical harm,
- Sexual assault,
- Stalking, or
- Abuse to children.
For the purposes of distinguishing acts of abuse that constitute domestic violence from other abuse offenses, 15 V.S.A. § 1101(2) further defines family and household members as “persons who, for any period of time, are living or have lived together, are sharing or have shared occupancy of a dwelling, are engaged in or have engaged in a sexual relationship, or minors or adults who are dating or who have dated.”
Domestic Assault Crimes and Penalties
The Vermont criminal code establishes specific criminal charges and penalties for offenses involving domestic violence. Depending on the severity of the domestic violence crime you are accused of committing, you could be charged with domestic assault or first- or second-degree aggravated domestic assault. Each of these crimes carries different penalties, as detailed below.
Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1042
Domestic assault is the least serious domestic violence offense in Vermont. It is also the most common. Pursuant to 13 V.S.A. § 1042, a person is guilty of the crime of domestic assault if he or she:
- Attempts to cause or willfully or recklessly causes bodily injury to a family or household member, or
- Willfully causes a household or family member to fear imminent serious bodily injury.
If you are facing charges for domestic assault in the state of Vermont, you risk a possible criminal penalty consisting of imprisonment for up to 18 months, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, upon conviction.
Second-Degree Aggravated Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1044
Aggravated domestic assault in the second degree is a more serious domestic assault charge in Vermont. A person is guilty of second-degree aggravated domestic assault if he or she has committed the crime of domestic assault and:
- The conduct violates specific conditions set forth in a criminal court order intended to protect the other person, or
- He or she has a prior conviction within the last 10 years for violating an abuse prevention order or has a prior conviction for domestic assault.
Any person accused of aggravated domestic assault in the second degree in the state of Vermont faces a possible penalty of imprisonment for up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, or both, upon conviction.
First-Degree Aggravated Domestic Assault – 13 V.S.A. § 1043
In Vermont, first-degree aggravated domestic assault is the most severe domestic assault charge and it therefore carries the harshest criminal penalties upon conviction. A person may be accused of aggravated domestic assault in the first degree if he or she:
- Attempts to cause or willfully or recklessly causes serious bodily injury to a family or household member,
- Uses, attempts to use, or is armed with a deadly weapon and threatens to use it on a household or family member, or
- Commits a domestic assault crime and has a prior conviction for aggravated domestic assault.
If you are found guilty of the crime of first-degree aggravated domestic assault in Vermont, you could be sent to prison for up to 15 years, fined up to $25,000, or both.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
Under Vermont’s domestic violence laws, any family or household member who accuses you of committing an act of domestic violence can petition the court for a domestic violence protective order, also known as a restraining order. Depending on the nature and severity of the domestic violence offense you are accused of committing, a judge may issue a relief from abuse order, a stalking or sexual assault protective order, or an extreme risk protection order against you. The terms set forth in a domestic violence restraining order may require you to do any or all of the following and more:
- Refrain from abusing the alleged victim (the petitioner) or his or her children
- Refrain from interfering with the personal liberties of the petitioner or his or her children
- Avoid any form of communication with the petitioner
- Remain within a specified distance from the petitioner as well as his or her children, residence or place of employment
- Immediately vacate a shared residence, regardless of who owns it
- Comply with any custody orders established by the court
- Pay the living expenses of the petitioner and child support (if necessary)
- Relinquish possession, control or care of a family pet
- Return any personal documentation in your possession, including birth certificates, identification cards and immigration documentation for the petitioner and/or his or her children
Need Legal Help? Talk to a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
As you can see, a conviction for a Vermont domestic assault offense can lead to hefty fines and a lengthy prison sentence, not to mention severe restrictions on your personal liberties and other long-lasting consequences. Being labeled an abuser, even if the allegations against you are false, can also ruin your reputation, your personal and professional relationships, and your standing in the community. Given the scope of Vermont’s domestic violence laws, even an incident that to you may seem like a minor family dispute can easily result in an arrest, a domestic violence protective order and possibly even criminal charges. That is why we always recommend consulting a capable and competent Vermont domestic violence defense attorney the moment you find yourself faced with accusations of domestic violence. The sooner you get a knowledgeable defense attorney working on your case, the better your chances of obtaining an acquittal at trial or having the charges reduced or possibly even dismissed altogether.