You’re in college. Or in high school. You did something stupid. You got caught. Now what?
Everyone wants to keep their criminal record clean. We’ve all heard about people applying for jobs and having something they did in the past surface and keep them from moving forward. The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, usually called HYTA, helps young people keep mistakes off their record, so they don’t have to worry about one lapse of judgement haunting them forever.
HYTA is available to someone who commits a crime after their 17th birthday, but before their 21st. Most crimes can be taken under HYTA, however “Capital Offenses” (like murder), some Criminal Sexual Conduct charges, major controlled substance (drug) charges and traffic offenses (drunk driving, driving while licenses suspended) are excluded.
Allowing a person to be a “trainee” is at the complete discretion of the judge. The prosecutor does not get to decide who qualifies, and even if they object to it, the judge can still allow it.
Now the bad news. In order to get HYTA’s protection, you have to plead guilty to the crime. How can you keep a clean record if you’re pleading guilty? The judge takes your guilty plea as an admission of your guilt, holds onto it, and sentences you. Usually, trainees are put on probation. If you complete probation with no problems, the judge throws away your guilty plea and never puts it on your record. The judge also has the discretion to put you in jail, but most judges don’t like doing that.
Probation can be as long as 3 years. Most of the time the terms of the probation include not picking up any more charges, drug or alcohol testing, community service and rehabilitative programs such as AA or NA.
If you pick up a new charge, or test positive for drugs, the judge will hold a probation violation hearing. You have the right to have an attorney represent you, and you should take advantage of that right. At the probation violation hearing the judge can decide to “revoke” your status as a trainee. If your HYTA protection is revoked, your guilty plea gets entered and the original charge will stay on your record.
Once you successfully complete your probation, the judge throws out your guilty plea and seals your records. No one will know that you were charged, convicted and plead guilty to a crime. Your record remains clean.
HYTA is usually a one time thing. Although there is no limitation to the number of times you can be granted HYTA, it is at the discretion of the judge. Most judges will not be willing to give you HYTA status more than one time.
So, if you’re between the ages of 17 and 21 and you find yourself facing criminal charges, be sure to ask your attorney about getting HYTA’s protection.
Still have a question about HYTA? Call Ambrose Law Group 248-624-5500