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Exciting New Change Makes More Options Possible For Youthful Defendants

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is a special probation for which youthful defendants who meet certain eligibility criteria are given an opportunity to earn a dismissal of their criminal charges. This special form of probation is made possible by MCL 762.11 and presently has allowed individuals between the ages of 17 and before one's 21st birthday to be eligible.

The special probation allows for a court to accept a plea of guilty (no contest pleas and a conviction at trial are technically exluded) but it does not act as a conviction unless the terms of probation are violated by the defendant. A court may impose a sentence of probation, jail, or imprisonment for up to 3 years.

Fortunately, on August 18th, 2015 that upper age limit will increase to 24 years of age. Although the age limit is expanded, those individuals between 21 and 24 will be required to attain consent of the Prosecuting Attorney unlike a request that does not require consent for someone under the age of 21. The other major change to the statute is that is reduces the possible imprisonment period from 3 years to 2 years if incarceration is required.

What remains relatively unchanged are the offenses not eligible for HYTA status. These included life felonies, traffic offenses (misdemeanor or felony offenses involving a motor vehicle), major controlled substance offenses, and numerous listed criminal sexual conduct (CSC) offenses.

This presents both defense counsel and their young defendants with expanded opportunity to prove to the respective prosecuting attorney's office that they are worthy of an eventual discharge and dismissal. This will avoid any adjudication of guilt which will help the individual greatly when attempting to further their education and when applying in an increasingly competitive job market.

 

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