Probation Violations for Defendants Under Holmes Youthful Trainee Status

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act is a deferral program within the Michigan criminal justice system that requires young people between the ages of 17 and 24 to admit guilt to a criminal offense and be placed on probation for a specific period of time. If they are assigned as a Youthful Trainee and successfully complete the term of their probation, they will not have a conviction. They also receive the benefit of the conviction not entering during their period of probation.

Being granted Youthful Trainee status is a huge benefit. It allows you to avoid getting a conviction and to keep your record clean. Getting this status means that the court has given you a second chance to prove that you can be a law-abiding citizen.

If you received treatment under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), and have been accused of violating the terms of your probation, you’re not only facing incarceration and other possible punishment. You’re also looking at losing the benefit of HYTA, and having a conviction enter. This is particularly serious if you were placed on HYTA for a felony, or for a drug offense. If you were on HYTA for a drug offense and lose the status, you’ll also have your driver’s license suspended.

So, if you’re facing a probation violation while on HYTA status, what should you do? Here are some suggestions:

  1. At the probation violation arraignment, plead not guilty. 

You’re going to need some time to figure out how to best handle what is happening. When you are arrested on the probation violation and brought before the judge, you need to plead “not guilty.” You can always change your plea later, if that’s appropriate, but for now, you need the court to set the case on for a probation violation hearing.

  1. Hire an attorney, or apply for a court-appointed attorney. 

You have a lot on the line – loss of your HYTA status, driving privileges, incarceration. This is not the time to go into court alone. If you can afford to hire representation, find a lawyer who you trust to guide you through this process. If you can’t afford to hire an attorney, request that the court appoint an attorney for you.

  1. Start addressing your problems immediately. 

How is it alleged that you violated probation? If the issue was drug or alcohol related, for example, it’s time to start looking into treatment. If you violated for failing to complete a term of your probation, such as completion of community service, complete it immediately. Start doing everything in your power to prove to the judge in your case that you deserve another second chance.

  1. Think long-term.

When talking to your attorney about your goals are in resolving this probation violation, you need to be thinking about your life long-term, not about the potential for short-term pain and inconvenience. For example, if you can resolve your probation violation by serving some jail time, and keep your HYTA status, you should do that in a heartbeat. A short period of time in jail is nothing compared to permanently having a criminal conviction on your record. Even though it may be painful in the short-term, the consequences long-term of having a criminal conviction on your record will ultimately be way more painful in the long run.

  1. Try to get a resolution that allows you to keep your HYTA status. 

In resolving your probation violation, unless you have a defense to the violation, your best option is to try to work out a resolution that will permit you to keep your HYTA status. Sometimes, depending on what type of probation violation is alleged, that won’t be possible. However, you should discuss with your attorney anything that you can do to make this type of resolution more realistic.

  1. Contest the violation if you’re not guilty. 

If you’re not guilty of the violation of probation, you should go forward with a contested hearing. You have the ability to cross-examine the government’s witnesses, to present witnesses of your own, to testify on your own behalf, and to present documentary evidence.

If you’ve been charged with violating your HYTA probation, it is important that you discuss the situation with an attorney as soon as possible. Contact a lawyer at Blanchard Law today.

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