Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA)
For youthful individuals there is a statutory diversion program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) that can help keep the individual’s public record clean.
Am I eligible?
HYTA permits young people to avoid a criminal conviction if they successfully complete probation. It is available to individuals who were at least 17 years old at the time of the offense and not more than 23 years old.
If you qualify and you wish to receive HYTA status must plead guilty to the offense. It is not available if you are found guilty at trial or if you plead no contest. It is up to the judge whether or not to grant the privileges of the program. If you are under 21, the judge can grant HYTA even if the prosecutor disagrees with it. If you are over 21, the prosecutor must agree.
HYTA is not available for the following types of crimes:
- A major felony offense for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment
- A major drug offense
- A traffic offense
- Most forms of Criminal Sexual Conduct
If you are charged with one of these types of crimes but want to take advantage of HYTA, your lawyer will have to negotiate a plea agreement that makes you eligible.
What HYTA entails depends on many factors. If you receive HYTA for a misdemeanor, you will be placed on probation for a period of time but not longer than 2 years. If you receive HYTA for a felony offense you may be placed on probation, incarcerated in the Department of Corrections for up to 3 years, or incarcerated in the county jail for up to 1 year.
What are the benefits?
If you successfully complete HYTA, there will be no public record of conviction. You can report to employers and colleges that you have not been convicted of a crime and do not have a criminal record. The records, however, are available to the courts, law enforcement, and the Department of Corrections.
Should you be convicted of a crime later in life, the HYTA crime can not be used to enhance your status as a habitual offender, but it can be used in scoring under the Michigan Sentence Guidelines.
What happens if I am unsuccessful?
If you violate probation, the court can revoke your HYTA status. Technically, in a probation violation, the judge has the discretion to resentence you on the original charge in whatever manner the court seems fit so long as it is within the law. This can include incarceration, an extension of the probation, or revocation of probation. If HYTA is revoked, the conviction will enter and become public.
Because HYTA is considered a second chance for youthful offenders who may have made a poor choice, it is important to be familiar with the terms of probation and to comply in order to take advantage of the benefits that HYTA provides.