Home Improvement Fraud

Reporter’s Note

In 2016, the Committee added a new instruction for home improvement fraud, which reflects significant revisions made to the statute. See 2015, No. 13, §§ 1–2, eff. May 1, 2015. In accordance with the revised statute, the new instruction omits the “knowingly” requirement from certain elements of the offense, and removes the permissive inference, among other changes. The Committee has retained the old instruction on this website for cases in which the old statute may apply.

With respect to the old instruction, the model instruction includes the permissive inference formerly set forth in 13 V.S.A. § 2029(c), and does not include the typographical error referenced in State v. Rounds, 2011 VT 39, ¶ 30, and State v. Amidon, 2011 VT 126, ¶ 4.  The jury should not be instructed on the permissive inference, however, unless there is sufficient evidence to establish each of the basic facts beyond a reasonable doubt.  Rounds, 2011 VT 39, ¶ 29.

Additionally, in drafting the instruction, some members of the committee noted concern that operation of the inference might be overbroad or vague as applied in some circumstances.  Trial counsel should consider whether to raise the issue in a particular case.