The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act
If you are between at least 17 years old, but less than 21 years of age, and have been charged with a crime in Michigan, you may think that pleading guilty to a crime would a big mistake. But surprisingly, sometimes a guilty plea can be a better alternative. Kronzek & Cronkright handles HYTA sentencing throughout the state of Michigan. If you need help any sentencing alternatives representation, you can contact us online or call (866) 766-5245.
We handle HYTA sentencing throughout Michigan
Our practice area includes Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Farmington Hills, Gaylord, Cadillac, Detroit, and throughout Michigan. In Michigan, it is not widely known that if you plead guilty to certain criminal charges you might be able to have the criminal conviction dismissed (expunged) and cleared from your record. Certain qualifications must be met for this to occur. Under a Michigan law called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), you may be able to avoid having a criminal conviction on your record, as long as you and your case meet certain requirements. Having an experienced aggressive criminal defense lawyer who knows the details and subtleties of the Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act can ensure that you take full advantage of your rights under the law.
The Purpose of The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act
The HYTA was enacted with the understanding that 17 to 20 year-olds, who generally do not have the maturity and discipline of adulthood, sometimes commit immature criminal acts. If such acts are truly “isolated incidents” in that person’s life, then the underlying rationale of HYTA is that a criminal conviction (which can have lifetime lasting negative repercussions) may be too harsh a penalty in that case. HYTA sentencing allows for a “deferred judgment,” rather than a “delayed sentence.” For example, a “delayed sentence” is reported to the Michigan State Police as a conviction and the court record of judgment and probation is made public. In contrast, a “deferred judgment” is not reported as a conviction and stays out of the public record (unless you do not successfully complete probation). There are many important aspects and qualifications for handling a case under the HYTA statute. A careful analysis of your case (and of you) will help us determine whether this is a viable option in your case. You can contact a Michigan criminal defense lawyer by calling 1 866-766-5245.
Who is HYTA Eligible?
In order to be eligible for the HYTA, you have to be a certain age when the alleged criminal act was committed; the crime has to be of a certain type; and you must plead guilty. If you are charged with a criminal offense, committed on or after your 17th birthday, but before your 21st birthday, a judge may assign you to the status of “youthful trainee.” You cannot be eligible for HYTA if you are charged with a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, a major controlled substance offense or a traffic offense. Finally, you must plead guilty in order for the judge to even consider placing you in the youthful trainee program, which was intended to be only for people who demonstrate some measure of responsibility for their actions. A skilled attorney can work through the process to see whether HYTA status is right for you.
Can I Still Go to Prison or Get Jail Time with HYTA?
Yes. If you meet all the requirements for the HYTA program, the judge may place you in prison or on probation without entering a judgment of conviction. In most cases where HYTA trainee status is granted there is no prison time ordered. While you are in the HYTA program, as long as you can prove you have stayed out of further trouble, you will complete the trainee program successfully. At the end of your successful probationary period, the court will negate your conviction and dismiss the charges against you. Furthermore, information on all the proceedings in your case stays out of the public record.According to Michigan state law, the entire file of your case becomes a nonpublic record while proceedings are deferred and you are on probation and also after an order of discharge and dismissal is entered. The nonpublic record will be open only to the courts, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, law enforcement personnel and prosecuting attorneys.
Expert Holmes Youthful Trainee Act Attorneys
There are recent changes in the ways HYTA may be applied that an experienced, criminal defense lawyer can understand and put to work for you. For example, previous Michigan cases had established that a person assigned to HYTA status for a sex offense had to register as a sex offender, even when the charge was dismissed through HYTA. In late 2009 the Michigan Court of Appeals said that the purpose of the Sex Offender Registration Act “is not served by requiring an otherwise law-abiding adult to forever be branded as a sex offender because of a juvenile transgression involving consensual sex during a Romeo and Juliet relationship [where one participant is under the age of consent but no more than four years younger than the other participant].”
HYTA assignment is far better than living with the conviction, especially if that conviction would be a felony. People who are considering an HYTA plea should think about the following:
- A person with an expunged felony cannot be a police officer in Michigan under the current legislation.
- The information related to the sentence is always going to be available to courts, police officers, probation officers and certain other government officials even though it is not a public record.
- You can easily lose your HYTA status by having a probation violation. Many Michigan judges would revoke the status without hesitation if you are found guilty of a probation violation. If HYTA status is revoked, you live with the conviction for the rest of your life unless there is a successful alternative attempt at expungement, setting aside the conviction or pardon.
- On felony cases, most prosecutors will insist on a guilty plea to the highest charge, often a felony, before they agree to an HYTA plea bargain.
- In cases where compliance with probation requirements is going to be a problem, a plea to a lesser charge without HYTA may be better than an HYTA plea followed by a probation violation, a revocation of HYTA and a permanent felony conviction.