Know the Laws: Vermont
UPDATED September 24, 2012
Sexual Assault or Stalking Protective Orders
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This is a civil order that protects victims of stalking or sexual assault.
How to get an order
back to topWhere do I file for a sexual assault or stalking protective order?
To file for a protective order, you go to the superior court in the county where you live. If you have left your home in order to avoid being sexually assaulted or stalked, you can file the order in the county where you previously lived or in the current county you live in.*
* VT ST T. 12 § 5132
back to topHow much does the protective order cost?
Nothing. There is no filing fee to get a protective order.*
* VT ST T. 12 § 5133(f)
back to topWhat steps do I take to apply for an order?
These are the basic steps to getting an order:
Go to superior court
to file a complaint and affidavit.*
The judge reviews your paperwork and may question you. The judge may then grant a temporary ex parte order
and a court date is set for a hearing on the final order
The abuser must be notified of the complaint, temporary ex parte order and the hearing through a process called “service” prior to the hearing date. You can use a law enforcement officer to personally serve (notify) the abuser - you cannot deliver the papers yourself. The person serving the complaint must file a “return of service” with the court indicating the date, time, and place that the order was personally delivered to the abuser. This is your proof that the abuser was properly served if s/he does not show up to court for the hearing. If service cannot be made prior to the hearing date, you can request additional time to serve the abuser/defendant and the judge will determine how much time is needed to complete service.**
After the abuser is served, you will have a hearing in court on the scheduled hearing date. During this hearing, you must prove to the judge that the abuser has sexually assaulted
you through witnesses, testimony, and other evidence. The abuser/defendant has a right to offer evidence that s/he did not sexually assault or stalk you. You may want to have an attorney represent you at the hearing. Go to our VT Finding a Lawyer
page for free and paid legal referrals. If you have to represent yourself, you can find some helpful information on our Preparing for Court
The judge will determine if you will receive a final order. If the judge believes that the defendant stalked you or the defendant has been criminally convicted of sexual assault, the judge can grant you an order against stalking or sexual assault without
considering whether or not the defendant poses a risk of future harm. However, if s/he was not
convicted criminally of sexual assault, you must prove to the judge that s/he sexually assaulted you and
that there is a danger of further harm to you.***
In either case, the judge may add additional protections to your order than the protections you had on your temporary ex parte order.****
During the hearing, the judge can consider the defendant's past behavior as relevant evidence of future harm but, in general, the judge cannot consider evidence about your reputation or your past sexual conduct (although there are exceptions). See Can my past sexual history be used against me in court?
for more information.
* VT ST T. 12 § 5133(a),(h)
** VT ST T. 12 § 5135
*** VT ST T. 12 § 5133(c),(d)(1)
**** VT ST T. 12 § 5133(d)
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