Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), Part 2

HYTA 2

Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney HYTA

This concludes our discussion of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) from yesterday.

Can I be Sentenced to Jail or Prison on HYTA?

 Yes! It’s been my experience that most HYTA sentences include probation but sometimes it will include jail. The jail may not always be upfront, but if you violate your probation the judge can and often will send you to jail for violating probation. The maximum amount of time you can by on HYTA probation is three years. The court can also sentence an offender to HYTA prison. There are specific wings of the Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer County designated for HYTA offenders only. Regardless of your sentencing guidelines, you can spend no more than two years in HYTA prison. Some judges will send offenders to HYTA prison who repeatedly violate probation or if convicted of a really serious offense. For example, a youthful offender may be charged with armed robbery. Since that is a life offense it is not eligible for HYTA. The prosecutor may allow the offender to plead guilty to a lesser charge of unarmed robbery which is HYTA eligible.

If I Violate Probation Will I Lose My HYTA Status?

 There is a good possibility that my happen. Not all probation violations are treated equally so it will depend on the violation and the judge. Usually a judge will not revoke HYTA for a first probation violation but it can and does happen. You don’t want to risk it! If you have been charged with a probation violation, you need to contact a probation violation lawyer to convince the judge not to revoke your HYTA status, even if found guilty of the violation. The judge can always sentence you jail, prison, lengthen your probation, or add conditions to your probation. No matter what happens, you want to keep your Youthful Trainee status.

Can I Get HYTA More than Once?

 Yes, you can receive HYTA multiple times as there is no limit in the statute, unlike 7411 for drug possession and drug use crimes. However, just because you can doesn’t mean you will. You certainly don’t want to risk it by committing other offense under the guise that you will automatically receive HYTA. That is simply not the case. Many judges are reluctant to give HYTA multiple times as it starts to seem like an abuse of the system. Many judges can be convinced to grant HYTA twice but after that, you are really pushing your luck. I once convinced a judge to grant HYTA to an offender for a third time over the prosecutor’s objection, but it’s rare. The more times you go to the well the greater you risk not getting it. Some prosecutor’s offices have policies of objecting to HYTA if a defendant had previously been granted it. The final decision is always up the judge, but you want the prosecutor on your side if at all possible. This is where being represented by a lawyer with vast experience in your court and with your judge is invaluable as your lawyer can tell you what the judge is likely and not  likely to do.

If I’m Found Guilty or Convicted at Trial Can I Petition for HYTA?

 No! Unlike 7411, you cannot petition the court for HYTA if you have been convicted at trial. HYTA encourages judicial efficiency and defendants to take responsibility for their actions by admitting guilt. If defendants could run the gambit of trial and still get the same result, even if they lose, there really is no incentive to admit guilt and take responsibility for your actions. Also, a defendant can also not be granted HYTA by pleading No Contest—he must plead guilty or else he cannot receive HYTA.

Can I Receive HYTA if the Prosecutor Objects?

 In some circumstances, yes. The final decision always rests with the judge. However, there were some amendments this past year to HYTA that changed some of that. Under the old HYTA, you could only receive it if you were between 17 and 21, but the judge always had the authority to grant HYTA even if the prosecutor objects. Now, if you are seeking HYTA between the ages of 21 and 24 the law says the prosecutor must agree or not object in order for the judge to grant HYTA. The judge still has discretion if it’s between 17 and 21. If it’s between 21 and 24, the prosecutor must be on board for the judge to grant the petition.

Earn a Non-public Record with HYTA

 Being granted HYTA means your record of the “conviction” is non-public. It’s not an expungement which is removing a criminal conviction that is already on your record. With HYTA, the conviction is never on your public record. The entire file is suppressed the moment the judge accepts the plea.  However, it is and always will be accessible by law enforcement, the courts, the Department of Corrections, and the prosecutor’s office. That means if you get in trouble with the law again, the courts will know you were granted HYTA in the past and that this is not your first offense. That may impact negotiations in your current case which is why it is always important to be represented by an experienced criminal defense attorney.

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.

 

Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), Part 1

HYTA 1

Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer HYTA

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.

Diversion Programs and Delayed Sentences

Diversion Program

Lansing Michigan Criminal Defense Attorney

When convicted of a crime, it will remain on your record forever. Usually. The good news is that not everyone has to worry about having their career or future ruined because of one bad choice or an error in judgment. The Michigan legislature has recognized that some people deserve a second chance and shouldn’t have their clean slate tarnished for every future employer to see. There are some ways you can keep a criminal conviction off your record. Some only apply to certain ages or certain offenses. These are known as diversion programs and deferred or delayed sentencing.

Diversion Programs

Diversion programs are a way for defendants to keep a criminal matter off their public record without having to plead guilty or go to trial. They are usually for low level offenses such as misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. Each court has its own criteria for diversion. There will be limits as to the types of offenses that are permitted and there may be residency requirements. The programs are usually reserved for first-time offenders. It is not an expungement, which is removing a conviction from your record after it has been on your record for a period of time. Diversion programs and delayed sentencings are better than expungements because if successful, the file is suppressed (non-public) from the beginning.

The way it works is that the prosecutor will dismiss your case without prejudice (meaning it can be re-filed) upon the contingency that you successfully complete the diversion program. Again, each court is different but it usually involves classes, fines, and community service. The length of the diversion and the types of class you participate in are determined by the type of offense. If you successfully complete diversion, the prosecutor will not re-file the charges and the matter will not appear on your public record. Diversion is frequently used for shoplifting or retail fraud, theft offenses, and sometimes non-violent felonies. An experienced Michigan criminal defense attorney that is familiar with your court should be able to tell you if you are eligible for diversion and can help you get in.

Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA)

The Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA or YTA) is a special sentencing option available to defendants who commit crimes between the ages of 17 and 24. The age requirements are strict. If you commit a crime at 12:01 a.m. on your 24th birthday, you are not eligible. Not every offense is eligible for HYTA either. Youthful Trainee Status cannot be given for any offense that has a potential life sentence (murder, armed robbery), criminal sexual conduct, a major controlled substance offense (drug dealing or possession with intent to deliver), or a traffic offense (OWI, Reckless Driving). Also, if the offense occurs between the ages of 21 and 24 the prosecutor must agree to HYTA or else the judge has no authority to grant it. Upon successful completion of your sentence, you will not have a public record of the offense. You must plead guilty in order to get HYTA, meaning you cannot receive it by pleading no contest or by being found guilty at trial. You can receive it more than once, but be wary that many judges are reluctant to give it multiple times.

7411 for First Offense Use or Possession of Controlled Substance

Under MCL 333.7411, you can receive a deferred conviction for possession of a controlled substance or use of a controlled substance. In other words, it only applies to drug use or drug possession. It cannot be given for any other controlled substance offense such as maintaining a drug house, possession with intent to deliver, etc. There is no age requirement but the caveat is it can only be granted once in your lifetime. Like HYTA, upon successful completion of your sentence (usually probation) you will not have a public record of the offense. Not only does it keep your record clean, but it prevents the mandatory driver’s license sanctions as well. You maintain a clean slate and keep your license. Unlike HYTA, you do not necessarily have to plead guilty to get 7411. You can request it if you have been found guilty at trial. However, be aware that many judges are hesitant to do so, especially if the prosecutor was agreeing not to object to your 7411 petition as an enticement for pleading guilty. It’s a risk you take.

769.4a for Domestic Violence Charges

Under MCL 769.4a, you can receive a deferred sentence for a domestic violence conviction provided that you have no prior assault convictions. Probation is the usual sentence but there could be some jail. Often you will have to take some sort of anger management classes or alcohol or drug treatment if they believe that is a problem. Like HYTA and 7411, you will have no public record of the offense if you successfully complete your sentence. Like 7411, you only get to use it once.

Minor in Possession of Alcohol (MIP)

For first offense MIP charges, a defendant can be granted a deferred sentence under statute, meaning he will not have a public record upon successful completion of probation which could include community service, alcohol prevention programs, and an alcohol substance abuse assessment. It can only be granted once.

Delayed Sentence

If you are eligible and the prosecutor and judge both agree, the sentence on your conviction may be delayed up to a year. In the meantime, you will be placed on probation under standard bond or probation conditions. After the year is up, you come back to court and your conviction can either be reduced to a lesser charge (misdemeanor or civil infraction) or in some cases completely dismissed, depending on what your agreement was. It is also commonly used in failure to pay child support cases.

Again, this is usually for first time offenders who are given on opportunity to show the court they are not likely to reoffend or commit crimes. You cannot get a delayed sentence for murder, treason, criminal sexual conduct in the first or third degrees, a major controlled substance offense, or armed robbery.

Michigan Sentencing Attorney

If you are charged with a crime, there may be options available to you that could keep your record clean. That means you can honestly tell future employers, colleges, and landlords that you have not been convicted of a crime. Michigan even has a law preventing employers from asking potential employees about misdemeanor convictions that have been diverted or deferred. This is something to discuss with your Michigan criminal defense lawyer if you find yourself being accused of a crime. A bad decision does not have to place an eternal scar on your record. If facing criminal charges, contact Austin Legal Services, PLC today at (517) 614-1983 to speak to a Michigan criminal defense attorney!

 

Defending criminal charges throughout Michigan in the counties of Ingham, Eaton, Clinton, Gratiot, Jackson, Shiawassee, Livingston, Kent, Washtenaw, Barry in the cities of Lansing, East Lansing, Mason, Brighton, Howell, Jackson, St. Johns, Ithaca, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor, Hastings, Corunna, Durand.