HYTA for Offenders 18 to Under 26 Years Old
Changes in the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) will give more young offenders a second chance. It now can apply to offenders under 26 years old at the time of the offense.
Holmes Youthful Trainee Act Results in No Public Criminal History
The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) allows Michigan judges to accept a misdemeanor or felony plea but not enter a conviction for defendants 18 to 25 years old at the time of the offense. If the youthful offender completes their probationary sentence under HYTA, they will not have a public conviction or criminal record. The law permits HYTA to apply to young offenders younger than 26 years old at the time of the felony or misdemeanor offense.
What are the HYTA qualification requirements?
Every young adult is not eligible for HYTA, and even if someone is qualified, their attorney must persuade the judge to grant a young defendant’s Holmes Youthful Trainee offender status. The basic requirements are:
- Age Qualification (at the time of the offense)
- Before age 21 – Prosecution concurrence is not required.
- Age 21 to 26 (day before 26th birthday) – Prosecutor concurrence is required.
- Minimal or No Criminal History (depends on the sentencing judge)
- Guilty Plea (the plea cannot be “no-contest”)
- Victim Consultation with the Prosecutor
- In cases where a plea bargain results in reduced charges and the original charge was a life offense, a major controlled substance offense, a traffic crime, or a crime related to Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC).
- Excluded Offenses
- Felony for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life.
- Major controlled substance offense.
- Traffic offense (felony or misdemeanor).
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 1st Degree or 2nd Degree
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 3rd Degree – If the victim was forced or coerced, was vulnerable, or had a special relationship with the offender, such as a relative, teacher, counselor, etc.
- Criminal Sexual Conduct 4th Degree – If the victim was forced or coerced, undergoing medical treatment, was vulnerable, had a special relationship with the offender, physically contacted by surprise, a recent patient of the offender receiving mental health treatment, under 18, and the contact is with a school employee, or special needs student under 26 and the contact is with a school employee.
HYTA for Offenses that Occurred Before the Defendant’s 26th Birthday
If the crime occurred when the defendant was at least 21 and under 26, a judge can grant HYTA status only if the prosecutor agrees. Depending on the county, many prosecutors routinely object to Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) for offenders 21 and over. Good defense lawyers know that obtaining the prosecutor to agree to youthful offender status is helpful. Great defense lawyers can consistently persuade them to agree to HYTA. If the prosecutor is in agreement, the judge will usually follow suit.
The prosecutor is unlikely to know the defendant’s better qualities and history of good deeds. A savvy lawyer will take the time to learn about their client, including their education, home life, mental health, history of drug/alcohol abuse, work history, religious affiliations, and activities, and record of community service and volunteerism before approaching the prosecutor for their concurrence. The defense attorney will want to be in the best position possible to convince the prosecutor that their client is deserving of HYTA consideration.
Is a lawyer necessary to get Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA)?
A sentence under HYTA is not a right, and the judge makes the final decision on whether the defendant will get a sentence as a youthful offender. In deciding whether to grant an offender HYTA status, the judge must consider the protection of society, punishment of the offender, deterrence from further criminality by the offender or others, and rehabilitation. The analysis is complex, and it is vital that a youthful offender has experienced legal representation to convince a judge that the defendant is a good candidate for the program and should be allowed to participate.
If a youthful defendant falls within any of the following classifications, they remain eligible for a Holmes Youthful Training Act plea; however, their lawyer must be incredibly persuasive to demonstrate their client’s appropriateness for HYTA classification:
- Prior juvenile or adult criminal history.
- History of drug or alcohol abuse.
- Record of incorrigibility.
- Past instances of school discipline.
- An offense involving dishonesty or theft, assaultive behavior, drug/alcohol use, sexual conduct, or obstruction of the police or government.
Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is necessary to protect a young offender who made a mistake. One youthful indiscretion should not destroy a person’s future. Top criminal defense lawyers give a youthful client the best possible chance of securing HYTA and avoiding a criminal history and incarceration.
Probation Under HYTA Status
If the judge grants a defendant Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), they will sentence the defendant to serve a term of probation (court supervision). The terms and conditions of probation under HYTA can be the same as those ordered for defendants without youthful offender status. The court may require the individual to maintain employment or attend school, undergo drug/alcohol testing and therapy, obtain mental health counseling, perform community service, and more. If the individual is not employed or attending school, the individual may be required to actively seek employment or register for school. If the offender was 21 or older at the time of the offense, the judge could order that person to submit to electronic monitoring (tether).
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the prosecutor need to agree to HYTA?
The prosecutor must agree to a plea bargain for Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) for individuals accused of a crime that occurred after their 21st birthday. A judge can grant this special status over the prosecutor’s objection, if the offense occurred while the defendant was over 18 but less than 21.
Do you have to plead guilty to get HYTA?
A defendant must plead guilty to get youthful offender status. A no-contest plea would make a defendant ineligible.
Can I get HYTA after a trial?
A defendant cannot get their case taken under HYTA after a conviction at trial.
Does the victim have to agree to HYTA?
A judge can sentence a youthful offender to HYTA status over the victim’s objection. Although the prosecutor must consult with the victim in cases where a plea bargain results in reduced charges and the original charge was a life offense, a major controlled substance offense, a traffic crime, or a crime related to Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC), the prosecutor can consent even if the victim disapproves.
After HYTA, are the charges dismissed?
An assignment to youthful trainee status does not constitute a conviction of a crime unless the court revokes the defendant’s status as a young trainee.
Can a person get HYTA if they have multiple charges?
A youthful offender can get HYTA status on multiple charges. There is no limitation on the number of felony or misdemeanor offenses that a judge can simultaneously take under advisement pursuant to the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA).
Can a judge grant HYTA and order the defendant to serve jail as a condition of probation?
A judge cannot both order HYTA and jail. If a judge orders a sentence under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, they must impose a term of probation without incarceration (neither jail nor prison). If a judge is considering jail, a lawyer experienced with HYTA must take any necessary measures to persuade the judge not to order a sentence making the defendant ineligible for youthful offender status.
Do sentencing guidelines apply to sentences under HYTA?
Although the sentencing guidelines do not apply to sentences imposed under HYTA, a judge must consider them when deciding if an offender is an appropriate candidate for youthful offender status.
How many times can you use HYTA in Michigan?
There is no limitation on the number of times a person can use HYTA or get youthful offender status. A judge can grant Holmes Youthful Trainee Act to a defendant with a prior record or a prior HYTA sentence.
Can you get HYTA twice in Michigan?
A person can get Holmes Youthful Trainee Act more than once; however, a judge will be reluctant to sentence a defendant to HYTA a second or third time.
Keeping Criminal Records Clean Is Important At Any Age
A person’s criminal history can make or break their future. A criminal record can be the difference between a job, college, a professional license, good credit, and even deportation if you are not an American citizen. There are programs and options available other than HYTA. It is crucial to work with an attorney that can advise you of these programs and determine whether or not you qualify. The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have decades of experience practicing law in criminal courts throughout Michigan. If you or your loved one faces criminal charges, you should immediately contact the attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. We will answer your questions, minimize your concerns, and take up the fight to protect and defend you. Our attorneys provide the best representation possible. If it is in your best interest, we can get you involved in a program such as Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) to protect your future.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete an online Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.