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Holmes Youthful Trainee Act HYTA in Wayne County Felony Cases

The Holmes youthful trainee act, also known by its abbreviation as HYTA or referred to as simply youthful-trainee status, is a way for offenders under the age of 24 to keep criminal offenses off their record. HYTA status does not prevent an offender from going to jail or prison. Depending upon the charge, prison may be mandatory for a particular offense, but the defendant might still be eligible for, and receive, youthful-trainee status. HYTA keeps the criminal offense off of the young offender's record. It does not modify the potential sentence.

HYTA is discretionary with the courts, and the grant or denial of HYTA status can be reviewed by the Court of Appeals. As set forth in People v. Khanani, 296 Mich. App. 175, 178-179 (2012):

"The [HYTA] offers a mechanism by which youths charged with committing certain crimes between their seventeenth and twenty-first birthdays may be excused from having a criminal record." People v Bobek, 217 Mich App 524, 528-529; 553 NW2d 18 (1996). The HYTA provides in relevant part: Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), if an individual pleads guilty to a criminal offense, committed on or after the individual's seventeenth birthday but before his or her twenty-first birthday, the court of record having jurisdiction of the criminal offense may, without entering a judgment of conviction and with the consent of that individual, consider and assign that individual to the status of youthful trainee. [MCL 762.11(1).] "An assignment to youthful trainee status does not constitute a conviction of a crime unless the court revokes the defendant's status as a youthful trainee." People v Dipiazza, 286 Mich App 137, 141; 778 NW2d 264 (2009). The HYTA "evidences a legislative desire that persons in this age group not be stigmatized with criminal records for unreflective and immature acts." People v Perkins, 107 Mich App 440, 444; 309 NW2d 634 (1981). A defendant is "not ineligible for sentencing under the [HYTA] solely because he was convicted of two criminal offenses." Giovannini, 271 Mich App at 410

"A trial court has wide discretion in placing a youthful offender under the [HYTA], subject to review by the appellate courts." Giovannini, 271 Mich App at 416. In exercising its discretion, a trial court should consider the seriousness of the offense as a factor on an  equal footing with the defendant's age. People v Fitchett, 96 Mich App 251, 253; 292 NW2d 191 (1980). In Fitchett, the defendant was 17 years old, "near to the lower age limit within which the act applies." Id. Nonetheless, this Court determined that there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of youthful-trainee status in light of the nature and severity of the charged offenses, i.e., "breaking and entering an occupied dwelling with the intent to commit larceny, punishable by a maximum of 15 years incarceration, and arson of a dwelling house, which carries a 20-year maximum sentence . . . ." Id. at 254 see also People v Teske, 147 Mich App 105, 106-109; 383 NW2d 139 (1985) (concluding that there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of youthful-trainee status to a 17-year-old defendant who committed armed robbery given the seriousness of the offense).

 

Note: While a plea under HYTA does not constitute a criminal conviction, if the offender gets in trouble down the road, the prior HYTA offense can be used in scoring sentencing guidelines, impacting the PRV score.  This is set forth in MCL 777.50, which states in relevant part that:

§ 777.50.  Conviction or juvenile adjudication 10 or more years from discharge and commission of next offense.

Sec. 50.   (1) In scoring prior record variables 1 to 5, do not use any conviction or juvenile adjudication that precedes a period of 10 or more years between the discharge date from a conviction or juvenile adjudication and the defendant's commission of the next offense resulting in a conviction or juvenile adjudication.

(2) Apply subsection (1) by determining the time between the discharge date for the prior conviction or juvenile adjudication most recently preceding the commission date of the sentencing offense. If it is 10 or more years, do not use that prior conviction or juvenile adjudication and any earlier conviction or juvenile adjudication in scoring prior record variables. If it is less than 10 years, use that prior conviction or juvenile adjudication in scoring prior record variables and determine the time between the commission date of that prior conviction and the discharge date of the next earlier prior conviction or juvenile adjudication. If that period is 10 or more years, do not use that prior conviction or juvenile adjudication and any earlier conviction or juvenile adjudication in scoring prior record variables. If it is less than 10 years, use that prior conviction or juvenile adjudication in scoring prior record variables and repeat this determination for each remaining prior conviction or juvenile adjudication until a period of 10 or more years is found or no prior convictions or juvenile adjudications remain.

(3) If a discharge date is not available, add either the time defendant was sentenced to probation or the length of the minimum incarceration term to the date of the conviction and use that date as the discharge date.

(4) As used in this part:

     (a) "Conviction" includes any of the following:

         (i) Assignment to youthful trainee status under sections 11 to 15 of chapter II.

 

MCL 762.11 states in full as follows:

762.11 Criminal offense by individual between ages 17 and 24; assignment to status of youthful trainee; consent of prosecuting attorney; exceptions; employment or school attendance; electronic monitoring; definitions.

Sec. 11.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3), if an individual pleads guilty to a criminal offense, committed on or after the individual's seventeenth birthday but before his or her twenty-fourth birthday, the court of record having jurisdiction of the criminal offense may, without entering a judgment of conviction and with the consent of that individual, consider and assign that individual to the status of youthful trainee. If the offense was committed on or after the individual's twenty-first birthday but before his or her twenty-fourth birthday, the individual shall not be assigned to youthful trainee status without the consent of the prosecuting attorney.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any of the following:

(a) A felony for which the maximum penalty is imprisonment for life.

(b) A major controlled substance offense.

(c) A traffic offense.

(d) A violation, attempted violation, or conspiracy to violate section 520b, 520c, 520d, or 520e of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520b, 750.520c, 750.520d, and 750.520e, other than section 520d(1)(a) or 520e(1)(a) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520d and 750.520e.

(e) A violation, attempted violation, or conspiracy to violate section 520g of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520g, with the intent to commit a violation of section 520b, 520c, 520d, or 520e of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520b, 750.520c, 750.520d, and 750.520e, other than section 520d(1)(a) or 520e(1)(a) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520d and 750.520e.

(3) The court shall not assign an individual to the status of youthful trainee if any of the following apply:

(a) The individual was previously convicted of or adjudicated for a listed offense for which registration is required under the sex offenders registration act, 1994 PA 295, MCL 28.721 to 28.736.

(b) If the individual is charged with a listed offense for which registration is required under the sex offenders registration act, 1994 PA 295, MCL 28.721 to 28.736, the individual fails to carry the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is not likely to engage in further listed offenses.

(c) The court determines that the offense involved any of the following:

(i) A factor set forth in section 520b(1)(a) to (h) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520b.

(ii) A factor set forth in section 520c(1)(a) to (l) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520c.

(iii) A factor set forth in section 520d(1)(b) to (e) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520d.

(iv) A factor set forth in section 520e(1)(b) to (f) of the Michigan penal code, 1931 PA 328, MCL 750.520e.

(4) If the court assigns an individual to the status of youthful trainee under this section, the court may require the individual to maintain employment or to attend a high school, high school equivalency program, community college, college, university, or trade school. If the individual is not employed or attending a high school, community college, college, university, or trade school, the individual may be required to actively seek employment or entry into a high school, high school equivalency program, community college, college, university, or trade school.

(5) If the offense for which the individual is assigned to the status of youthful trainee status was committed on or after the individual's twenty-first birthday, the individual may, in addition to the other requirements of this section, be subject to electronic monitoring during his or her probationary term as provided under section 3 of chapter XI.

(6) As used in this section:

(a) "Listed offense" means that term as defined in section 2 of the sex offenders registration act, 1994 PA 295, MCL 28.722.

(b) "Traffic offense" means a violation of the Michigan vehicle code, 1949 PA 300, MCL 257.1 to 257.923, or a violation of a local ordinance substantially corresponding to that act, that involves the operation of a vehicle and, at the time of the violation, is a felony or a misdemeanor.

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William Maze is an established Livonia Michigan attorney in Wayne County Michigan, and he has represented well over a thousand satisfied criminal defense clients across the state.  He has received multiple awards and recognitions, and he maintains a national reputation as one of the leading drunk driving defense attorneys in the country.  

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