Often referred to as HYTA, Holmes Youthful Trainee Act is a deferral program that was put into place by the legislature for youthful offenders. It gives them the opportunity to walk away from a stupid mistake without a criminal record.
When a young person between the ages of 17 and 24 commits a criminal offense and is adjudicated under HYTA, the court will impose a sentence but refrain from entering an order of conviction. For misdemeanor charges, the court can impose no more than two years’ probation. As a term of the probation, the court may require employment or continued education as part of HYTA. If the person successfully completes the term of probation, that person is deemed successful under HYTA and no criminal conviction will ever enter on that person’s permanent record. While they are on probation, the record remains non-public. Youthful offenders are only eligible for HYTA status for certain types of offenses, though. For example, if the youthful offender has committed a crime that is punishable by life in prison, most sex crimes, a major controlled substance offense or a traffic offense, he or she is not eligible for placement on HYTA.
If the young person is between the ages of 17 and 21 at the time the offense was committed, the court can opt to place him or her on HYTA with or without the consent of the prosecuting attorney. However, if the young person is between the ages of 21 and 24, the prosecutor must consent to placement on HYTA.
If a young person is placed on HYTA for the commission of a felony offense, the court has more discretion in how it will sentence the Defendant. For example, the court could impose up to 2 years in prison, and a year of probation after the term of incarceration. It is important to note, though, that if the youthful offender has committed any of the following offenses, then a prison sentence is not allowed under HYTA: a drug offense under MCL 333.7101 – 333.7545; breaking and entering a building; home invasion 3rd degree; most violations involving a financial transaction device; carrying a concealed weapon; larceny; larceny from a person, unlawfully driving away of an automobile; unarmed robbery; and receiving and concealing stolen property of any value up to $20,000 or of a vehicle. What this means is that, for these offenses, the judge may only sentence the offender to incarceration for a period of time that does not exceed one year and place that person on probation for up to three years.
If the youthful offender violates any of the terms and conditions imposed by the court under HYTA, the court has discretion in how to punish the offender. The court could revoke the offender’s HYTA status and enter the conviction on the offender’s record. In addition, the court could impose additional sanctions for the violation, such as additional terms of probation, or additional jail or prison time. The court could also elect to let the youthful offender maintain his status on HYTA and impose other sanctions for the violation. The court is not required to revoke HYTA and enter the conviction on the youthful offender’s record unless the youthful offender is convicted of a certain type of offense, as set forth in the statute. These offenses include: willful violation of the Sex Offender Registration Act; a major controlled substance offense; assault with a dangerous weapon; assault with intent to cause great bodily harm less than murder; strangulation; assault with intent to commit unarmed robbery; home invasion; felon in possession of a weapon; carrying a weapon with unlawful intent; carrying a concealed weapon; unlawful possession of a pistol; felony firearm; criminal sexual conduct (CSC) 1st – 4th Degree; assault with intent to commit CSC; carjacking; unarmed robbery; and any crime involving a firearm.
HYTA is a good option for young people who are able to modify their behavior to fit within the confines of the law. It is a tool used by the justice system as a way to give kids a second chance to maintain a clean record and show the court and society that they have learned their lesson and are worthy of a second chance.