Criminal convictions have a way of marring a person’s life, sometimes before it even begins. Even seemingly benign misdemeanor convictions have a way of haunting people when applying for jobs, housing, scholarships, loans, and the like. The good news is that if you are a young adult (between the ages of 17 and 24) there is a way to keep bad choices from leaving an indelible mark on your record.
Michigan’s Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is a way for young adults to keep criminal convictions off their public record. The eligibility is two-fold: age and offense. In general, the offense can’t be really serious (a life offense, most sex crimes) or traffic-related. The offense must have occurred between the time the defendant turned 17 and before his or her 24th birthday. It’s very important to note that the age of the defendant when the crime occurred is determinative, not when the defendant was caught, charged or convicted. The age limit is also strictly controlled by statute. If you committed the offense at 12:01 a.m. on your 24th birthday, you’re simply out of luck.
What is HYTA?
Youthful Trainee Status (or HYTA for short) is similar to a diversion, delayed or deferred sentence in that if upon successful completion of whatever sentence the court imposes, no conviction will enter on your public record. That means if a potential employer, landlord, or college does a background check your record will be clean. You can also honestly say that you have not been convicted of a crime because under HYTA no conviction was entered on your record. Senator Holmes realized that young people sometimes make bad decisions and he didn’t want those bad choices to forever scar someone’s record just as their life was beginning. The HYTA sentencing option is a way for a young person to get a second chance and earn a non-public conviction.
What Offenses are Not Eligible for HYTA?
- An offense that is punishable by life in prison (exs. murder, armed robbery)
- A major controlled substance offense
- Criminal Sexual Conduct in the first, second, third, or fourth degree (or any attempt or conspiracy to commit a CSC offense)
- Assault with Intent to Commit Penetration
- Traffic offense (exs. DUI/OWI, reckless driving)
There are some other instances that will make a defendant ineligible for HYTA. If the defendant has previously been convicted or adjudicated of an offense requiring compliance with the Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA), then the defendant is not HYTA eligible for a new offense. Also, the court cannot grant HYTA if the court concludes that any of the factors set forth in any of the Criminal Sexual Conduct crimes occurred.
If Granted HYTA do I Still Have to Register as a Sex Offender?
The unfortunate answer is yes. HYTA allows you to have a non-public record of the offense meaning it will not show up as a conviction in any background check nor is the file accessible to the public in any courthouse. However, you can still be forced to register under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) even though it flies directly in the face of the entire purpose of HYTA. Not to mention that what they are reporting is really untrue since SORA will indicate what you were “convicted” of but the HYTA legislation clearly states that no conviction will enter. So not only does SORA circumvent the purpose of HYTA but they are essentially reporting something about you that is not true. Until the courts and legislature come to this realization, it’s here to stay.
Can I Receive HYTA if Convicted of a Sex Crime?
It depends. You can’t receive HYTA if convicted of any degree of criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to commit penetration, or if you were convicted of a listed offense in the past. However, you can receive HYTA if convicted of a sex crime that doesn’t fall into one of the prohibited categories. Also, if convicted of an offense that requires you to comply with the sex offender registry act (SORA) the burden is on the defendant to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is not likely to commit a listed offense again in order to receive HYTA. How does a defendant prove this? This is where having an attorney represent you that is very experienced in defending sex crimes, especially sex crimes by young defendants, is crucial. You can be psychologically evaluated, take a sex offender course, and other means. Your lawyer can help present your case to the court to convince the judge that you should be granted HYTA.
Tomorrow we will conclude our discussion of the Youthful Trainee Act.
Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a crime and you don’t want it to impact your future, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney to see if you can be given a second chance with HYTA. Call today at (517) 614-1983!
Representing defendants and petitioning for HYTA throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Jackson, Kent, Washtenaw, in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, St. Johns, Charlotte, Brighton, Howell, Corunna, Jackson, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor.