In Vermont, public records comprise all government documents available to the people of the state. This definition includes a variety of records, such as vital records, criminal records, arrest records, court records, and so much more. The Vermont Public Records Act ensures a right to access public records held by state and municipal government organizations.
Vermont established record-keeping in all its 14 counties in 1776, starting with property-related documents, followed by significant life events such as births, deaths, marriages, and divorces.
The documents have been digitized over time, making them more accessible to the general public.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in Vermont allows individuals to access these records.
In this article, we will address common queries regarding public records and guide handling requests for rejected public data.
Vermont's Public Records Act
As a result of the 1972 Watergate scandal, Vermont enacted the Public Records Act, which ensures that state agencies' records are available for free and open inspection and upholds accountability and transparency.
Decision-making processes are improved so that privacy rights are respected.
Everybody has the right to see and copy any public records a local or state entity keeps. Public records in Vermont can be in writing, as written documents, photographs, audio files, or electronic or physical data.
The custodian of the record is compelled by law to deliver the documents upon request from an interested party under the public records laws. However, you may encounter restrictions in accessing some records exempted from the public records law.
Exempted Public Records in Vermont
As earlier stated, there are some records exempted from public viewing or copying due to the sensitivity of the records, and some of these records include:
● Confidential records
● Trade secrets
● Personal records of public employees
● Records that may interfere with justice if disclosed
● Medical records
● Ongoing criminal investigative records
● Student records
● Records subject to attorney-client privilege
● Records that deny a party's right to a fair trial
Accessible Vermont Public Records
Public records which are accessible to any person in the State of Vermont include:
● Records of court proceedings
● Criminal records which are not confidential
● Arrest records
● Records of inmates
● Certain sex offender information
● Vital Records
● Bankruptcy records
● Property records
● Background checks
● Driving records, and so on.
How Do You Access Public Records Vermont Files?
In some circumstances, you can access public records online. In other cases, a public records request must be made by phone, letter, or email to the entity in charge of keeping the records.
Expect some variations in the regulations, if you are accessing records from numerous locations because every department is unique.
Generally speaking, a request for public records ought to contain the following:
● The name of the requester
● Telephone numbers
● The title of the file
● The document's specifics
● A deadline by which you would like to receive the contents
● Document delivery method by email or mail.
The state's website, Vermont.gov, contains more details.
Where Can I Get Driving Records in Vermont?
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps driving records in Vermont.
You can pay the DMV the necessary fees in order to acquire your driving history. To obtain the driving records, you'll need to make an appointment at the Montpelier office.
If you have a valid need to know someone else's driving history, such as consideration for a job application, you can also ask for it. The individual whose record is requested must sign the written request and include their full name.
Where Can I Get Criminal Records in Vermont?
Vermont's criminal records are official documents available through the Vermont Criminal Conviction Record Internet Service division.
This service lets users purchase criminal conviction records from the Vermont Crime Information Center.
How Much Does it Cost to Obtain Criminal Records?
When requesting criminal conviction history records in the state of Vermont, you will be charged a non-refundable fee of $30 for each request, regardless of whether the records search provides a positive outcome.
Where Can I Find Vermont Court Records Online?
Most records in the Vermont Judicial Bureau are stored at the local court clerk's office, but you can find many cases on the internet.
The Vermont Judiciary created the V.T. Courts online to provide public access to information online. Using this portal, anyone can search for a case-by-case docket number, the litigant's name, or court calendars.
Where Can I Find Vermont Vital Records?
Vermont's Department of Health Vital Records Section is responsible for maintaining vital records in the state. The state's vital records consist of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce decrees.
The process of requesting public records for vital records in Vermont will vary depending on the requested document.
You can send mail or visit the Vermont Department of Health for a copy of the vital records.
Vermont Department of Health,
Vital Records Section,
P.O. Box 70,
108 Cherry Street,
Burlington, VT 05402-0070
Alternatively, you can order vital records online in Vermont using the Vital Records Request Service.
What to Do When Denied Access to A Public Record
The legislation in Vermont mandates that all local, regional, and state governments offer public data search services to anyone looking for records.
A governmental entity may occasionally turn down a request for public records.
If someone's request to see or copy a document gets turned down by the custodian, they have the right to appeal the decision to the head of the Vermont Department of Public Service.
The requester should make an effort to get a written explanation of the decision before filing an appeal.
According to Vermont law, every official who declined a request to access public records must provide a written explanation of their decision.
The law will deem it a denial of access to the record if the public officer does not supply the record within the timeframe they promised to do so or the timeframe specified by the statute.
The requester may continue to challenge the judgment in this circumstance.
Within five business days of receiving an appeal about a denial of access to public records, the director of the Department of Public Service must issue a decision.