Can I transfer my case to a different court?

A Vermont criminal defendant may want to transfer his case to a different court. This called a change of venue. Change of venue is controlled by Vermont Rule of Criminal Procedure 21.

A change of venue or transfer of case may occur when the court believes that a defendant cannot get a fair trial in the original court because of prejudice against the defendant.

A change of venue may also occur “for the convenience of parties and witnesses, and is in the interest of justice.”

Transfers based on prejudice happen infrequently in Vermont criminal cases. It is a fairly high burden to show that so much prejudice exists against a defendant that he cannot possibly get a fair trial in the original court. The Vermont Supreme Court has held that negative publicity is insufficient to require the trial court to change venue. State v. Billado, 165 Vt. 615 (1996).

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