Avoid Sex Crime Conviction with HYTA

Certain sex offenders in Michigan may be able to avoid possible criminal conviction pursuant to the Holmes Youthful Offender Trainee Act, more commonly known as HYTA.

Being charged with any criminal offense can have serious consequences for defendants. Michigan juvenile defense attorneys at Grabel & Associates know a criminal record can plague a person for years, and there may be numerous collateral consequences. This includes the loss of driving privileges, loss of a good job or trouble finding one, exclusion from public housing and Section Eight residences. It can also result in immigration consequences, such as deportation and exclusion from reentering the United States.

Sex crimes defendants, however, have this plus a host of additional woes. There is the awful stigma that can result in shame and embarrassment, loss of friends and possibly the inability to find a place to live. There are many cases where a defendant gets convicted of a sex crime and has no place to live because family members do not want their home listed on the sex offender registry.

It’s imperative in these cases to do everything you can to avoid a conviction. We can help.

HYTA, codified in MCLA Section 762.11, is one option to consider if you’re under the age of 24 at the time of the offense.

Explaining HYTA for Sex Offenses

The HYTA allows a defendant charged with many felonies, misdemeanors and ordinance violations to plead guilty and be placed on probation, rather than being sentenced. This can include traditional supervised probation, where the defendant is assigned a probation officer, or it can involve unsupervised probation, where a defendant is trusted to do what he or she has been ordered to do and then come back to court to have the charges discussed and the defendant’s criminal record sealed, so the case history will not be available to the public and most employers.

HYTA disposition is available in many cases, but there is the main requirement that the defendant is between the ages of 17 and 24 at the time the plea is interred. If the defendant is between the ages of 17 and 21, he or she can request a dismissal under the HYTA law without the consent of the prosecuting attorney. If the defendant is between the ages of 21 and 24, HYTA status is still available, but it will also require the consent of the prosecuting attorney.

Offenses Not Eligible under HYTA

While the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act does apply to many different criminal charges in Michigan, defendants charged with the following offenses do not have the option:

  • Traffic Offenses including Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)
  • A crime punishable by life in prison
  • A major controlled substance offense
  • Most sex crimes, including:
    • First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
    • Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct

The statute does not include criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in the first-degree or criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in the second-degree. It is, however, available in the case of first-time offenders charged with criminal sexual conduct in the third-degree and criminal sexual conduct in the fourth-degree.

Third-degree sexual conduct, pursuant to MCLA 750.520d, involves the following elements:

  • Defendant engaged in sexual penetration with another person and one of the following conditions are met:
    • The alleged victim is between the age of 13 and 16
    • Force or coercion is used to sexual penetrate the alleged victim
    • The defendant knew or had reason to know the alleged victim is mentally ill, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless
    • The alleged victim is related to the defendant by blood or marriage in the third degree, with some exceptions
    • The alleged victim is between the ages of 16 and 18, and a school student, and
      • The defendant is an employee or contract worker at the school, and the alleged victim is a student or volunteer at the school, and the defendant used his or her work with the school to establish a relationship with the alleged victim
    • The alleged victim is between the ages of 16 and 26 and is enrolled in special education, and
      • The defendant works at the school and used that relation to establish a relationship with the alleged victim

The fact that this offense and the offender who commits it who is between the age of 17 and 24, is the reason that this is often referred to a teenage sex crime that is eligible for HYTA treatment.

Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree

Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth-degree is very similar to criminal sexual conduct in the third-degree, with the exception that the fourth-degree charge involves sexual conduct without any alleged sexual penetration of the complaining witness. This offense involves sexual conduct with the complaining witnesses’ groin, breasts, buttocks, or inner thighs. This offense is also eligible for treatment under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

While these are not the most serious sex offenses, they still have the same stigma attached to the other two more serious criminal sexual conduct offenses. They can require the defendant register on the sex offender registry, and the fourth-degree offense is a misdemeanor. For this reason, it is essential that a defendant who has been charged with criminal sexual conduct of any degree to speak with an experienced Michigan sex crimes defense attorney. In addition to the attorney having experience, it is important that the defendant consults with an attorney who understands how devastating being charged with a sex crime can be and will do everything reasonable to fight for the best possible outcome the facts of the situation will allow.

It is important to understand that if a defendant pleads guilty and starts probation, but is rearrested or otherwise violates the terms of his or her probation, the defendant will be sentenced to the offense for which the defense has plead guilty to. This means that there will not be a trial. If you are considering taking a plea under the HYTA, it is important to be prepared to do everything required, because this in not an opportunity that you want to squander.

Contact juvenile defense attorneys at Grabel & Associates. Serving Lansing, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids.