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The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is a Michigan statute that allows youthful offenders to avoid a conviction on their criminal history for crimes they committed.
When a young adult is granted HYTA status, and successfully completes the HYTA probation, felony and misdemeanors will not show up on his or her permanent record. This means a youthful mistake will not show up when a future employer or other official searches your criminal record.
WHAT IS HYTA (HOLMES YOUTHFUL TRAINEE ACT)?
HYTA is an age-based diversion program for adults aged 18 – 26 who plead guilty to certain offenses. The court does not enter a judgment of conviction. Their cases are shielded from public view and dismissed upon successful completion of probation.
HYTA offers a great benefit. It gives young adults a second chance by eliminating a criminal charge and conviction from their public record. Successful completion of HYTA probation means a mistake from the past will not hinder your future. All evidence, including arrest records and fingerprints will be kept off the public record.
WHAT IS HYTA PROBATION?
Michigan HYTA allows the defendant to plead guilty to the offense charged and be placed on probation by the court for a set period of time. After the probationary period has been successfully completed, the court will dismiss the case.
During probation, defendants must meet certain conditions, such as:
WHO IS ELIGIBLE TO PARTICIPATE IN THE HOLMES YOUTHFUL TRAINEE ACT?
- Reporting to a probation officer
- Staying in a designated geographical area
- Staying away from certain people or places
- Avoiding certain activities
- Payment of certain fees
- Staying out of trouble with the law,
- Maintaining employment or attending school full time
- Completing court-ordered requirements which may include but are not limited to community service and obtaining a substance abuse evaluation.
Prior to October 1, 2021, HYTA applied only to individuals under the age of 24. On October 1, 2021, the HYTA statue was amended to include people who committed crimes before their 26th birthday.
If the offense was committed on or after the individual’s twenty-first birthday but before his or her twenty-sixth birthday, the prosecuting attorney must consent to granting the status of youthful trainee.
WHAT CRIMES MAKE AN INDIVIDUAL INELIGIBLE FOR HYTA?
Offenses that are excluded from HYTA eligibility are:
- Felony drug cases
- Most criminal sexual offenses
- Life imprisonment felonies
If you are charged with an ineligible offense, talk to an attorney about the possibility of negotiating a plea deal for a lower offense that qualifies for HYTA status.
HOW DOES HYTA WORK?
Parties to a HYTA disposition are the judge, the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the defendant. The crime victim and charging police agency may also have input when HYTA is requested.
Per MCL 762.11, if the offense was committed on or after the individual's twenty-first birthday but before his or her twenty-sixth birthday, the individual must not be assigned to youthful trainee status without the consent of the prosecuting attorney.
Prosecutor’s consent is not required for offenses committed on or after the offender’s 18th birthday but before his or her 21st birthday.
During the sentencing portion of an HYTA probation case, the defendant pleads guilty, and the judge accepts that plea. But the judge does not legally find the defendant guilty. Instead, the judge defers that part of the sentencing hearing until the probation period is complete.
After HYTA is invoked, a judge has discretion over what punishments will be included in the probation. Typically, the probation includes fines, restitution and community service.
When the defendant has successfully completed probation, the judge dismisses the case. Once the case is dismissed, the record is sealed.
WHAT FACTORS AFFECT THE GRANTING OF HYTA STATUS?
When the defendant is over 21, the prosecutor must consent to HYTA. Some prosecutors oppose HYTA probation as a matter of policy. Additionally, if the victim of the crime objects to HYTA probation, the prosecutor may honor that request.
For defendants between 18 and 21, HYTA probation is usually between the defendant and the judge. However, Michigan judges may reject these petitions for almost any reason. Meeting the minimum qualifications can be insufficient. Demonstrating remorse is critical.
CAN HYTA STATUS BE LOST?
HYTA is temporary until probation is completed successfully. It can be lost for failure to meet the conditions of the HYTA probation. If HYTA status is revoked, the court will place the conviction on a person’s record and the individual will be sentenced as if they did not receive the benefit of HYTA. Loss of HYTA status can result in jail time or even prison.
If you are facing a probation violation, contact your attorney immediately.
WHAT OTHER MICHIGAN PROVISIONS ARE SIMILAR TO HYTA?
HYTA is not available for juveniles (under age 18) or for offenders that are age 26 or older. However, there are other provisions of law that can benefit juveniles and adult offenders. They include the following:
- MCL 769.4a is used to get domestic violence offenses dismissed.
- MCL 333.7411 is used to get drug crimes dismissed.
More About HYTA
Young adults can have poor impulse control that leads them to make mistakes that have the potential to destroy their lives. With HYTA, young adults who committed crimes are given a second chance to become productive members of society.
A conviction can make it hard to find gainful employment. Employers are generally permitted to use criminal records in hiring decisions. A criminal conviction results in a lifetime ban on gun ownership. A convicted felon cannot own a business that sells and serves liquor. Working in a casino that has a gaming license is also on the list of things not allowed for felons.
If a person is convicted and imprisoned, their future becomes more challenging than that of a person who was convicted and placed on probation. When people are imprisoned, they often leave prison with no money, no job and no place to live. As a result, approximately two-thirds of felons released from prison will commit crimes and return to prison.
HYTA is not guaranteed and may be rejected by the court. Hiring an attorney that is well versed in the intricacies of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act and has excellent skills dealing with local judges, police and prosecutors is vital for those that want the best outcome the legal system provides.
About Carl Jordan
Attorney Carl Jordan who serves Metro Detroit is experienced in successfully securing HYTA status.
His experience can mean the difference between getting HYTA or winding up with a conviction. He will carefully evaluate your circumstances and recommend the next steps you should take.
Call him at 248 358-6647 for a free consultation.