Holmes Youthful Trainee Act

Sentencing HYTA Grand Rapids Lawyer


Update. The Michigan legislature amended the HYTA statute and made various changes, including one which extends the age limitation from 21 to 23. Note however, that if you are 21 or older the prosecutor must agree to your placement on HYTA status.


The state of Michigan has special laws for youthful offenders who are between the ages of 17 and 23. The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) was enacted because those just entering adulthood are more likely to commit immature acts which can have life-long consequences. Seemingly harmless senior year pranks or college dares can result in serious felony charges which carry serious consequences for someone with their whole life ahead of them.

HYTA allows the sentencing court to place an individual who commits a crime between the ages of 17 - 23 (crime must be committed before your 24th birthday) on a deferred judgment status. The deferred judgment is not reported to state police nor is it placed on your permanent criminal history. If you successfully complete the probationary terms while on HYTA, the deferred judgment remains private and out of the public record. This special sentencing treatment is best obtained using an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

There are, of course, many complexities with the HYTA law and obtaining this sentencing status is not automatic. Having an experienced Grand Rapids criminal defense lawyer match the facts and circumstances of your case with knowledge of the criteria and requirements of the HYTA program will give you the best opportunity to gain this advantage. You owe it to yourself and your future to have an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer conduct a careful analysis of your case and help you determine your qualification for HYTA status.

Who is Eligible for HYTA Status?

Not every person nor every crime qualifies for HYTA sentencing status. The accused person must be within a certain age group when the crime was committed, the crime has to be HYTA eligible (certain classes of crimes are not), and you must enter a guilty plea. Criminal offenses that are not HYTA eligible include drunk driving and traffic offenses, a serious drug offense, and certain specified felonies. If you committed the crime between the ages of 21 to 23, the consent of the prosecutor is required. In addition, HYTA status is ultimately left to the sentencing judge's discretion. The judge will review all the facts of the case, your education, background, and future potential before making a decision.

HYTA status is intended only for those individuals who demonstrate remorse and who accept responsibility for their criminal act(s). In our experience, HYTA is typically only given to first time offenders, those without a criminal history. However, the law does not limit the number of times a youthful offender can be placed on HYTA. It is imperative to find a skilled defense lawyer who is best equipped to negotiate an agreement between the prosecutor and the judge.

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How HYTA Works.

The primary advantage of being on HYTA status is that if you successfully complete all of the terms of your probation, there is not a public conviction and no corresponding entry of the crime on your permanent criminal history.

Depending on the seriousness of the crime, someone who is sentenced to Holmes Youthful Trainee Status is treated very similar to other criminal offenders. The sentencing court must place the person on a period of probation or incarcerate them, order payment of fines and costs, may require participation in counseling and work crew, and will place numerous limitations on a trainee's freedom (i.e. impose curfew, require complete abstinence from alcohol - no matter your age, not allow you to leave the state, etc.). If you committed the crime between age 21 and 23, the court can place you on electronic monitoring as part of your probationary sentence. The sentencing judge can also require that the youthful offender attend high school, complete a GED equivalency program, enroll in higher education, or find and maintain active employment.

The HYTA law allows a judge to place you in prison or on probation without entering a judgment of guilt. In our experience, most people assigned to HYTA trainee status are placed on probation with no prison time ordered. However, if you violate your probation while on youthful trainee status, the judge can (and often will) place you in jail and revoke your HYTA status. The non-public adjudication would then become a public record.

If you successfully complete the HYTA program, the judge will dismiss the charges and all information on your case becomes a non-public record which is available to only the courts, police, and other state agencies.

HYTA is Not for Everyone.

If you are planning to become a police officer, the HYTA adjudication, even though non-public, will likely make you ineligible. Information from your case remains available to the legal system, police officers, probation departments, and other governmental agencies.

Often state prosecutors will require that you plead to the most serious charge (usually a felony) in order for them to not oppose HYTA treatment. So, if you plead guilty to a felony with HYTA status and later violate your probation, you will now be a convicted felon. Most judges automatically revoke youthful trainee status for an offender who violates their probation (test positive for drugs) or picks up a new criminal charge. In such a scenario, it might have been better for you to plead to a misdemeanor charge that although it would go on your criminal record, would not be a felony conviction.

You should be aware that pleading to any sex related offense, even if it is placed on HYTA status, does not automatically mean that you won't have to register as a sex offender under the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act. Make sure you discuss all aspects of your case with an experienced lawyer.

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