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Holmes Youthful Trainee Act
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This is a law designed for young people, over 17 and under the age of 21, who may not have the necessary maturity to make sound and wise decisions. It is designed for those who had made their first major mistake. That mistake was (or included) criminal activity. They were sorry and wanted to be forgiven and turn back to a life that was pleasing to society and God. It is called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. It is a method to avoid having a criminal record, even though a serious crime has been committed.

 

Who Is Eligible for Holmes Youthful Trainee Status?

 

Age range:    Between 17th-21st birthday (17 to 1 day before the age of 21).

A criminal offense: misdemeanor or felony other than a felony for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed.

But, not for   a major controlled substance (drug) offense.

 

And not for   A traffic offense.

 

 

The Courts have ruled in People v. Rahilly     Mich App    (2001):

 

The HYTA (Holmes Youthful Trainee Act) provides a mechanism for individuals who commit certain crimes between the time of their seventeenth and twenty-first birthdays to be excused from having a criminal record.  People v. Bobek, 217 Mich.App. 524, 529, 553 N.W.2d 18 (1996), citing People v. Dolgorukov, 191 Mich.App. 38, 39, 477 N.W.2d 118 (1991).   Pursuant to M.C.L. § 762.11, an individual within the restricted age range may plead guilty of a specified offense, and the court having jurisdiction may assign the individual to the status of youthful trainee.   Once having assigned the individual to the status of youthful trainee, the court may commit the individual to custodial supervision for not more than three years in a specially designated Department of Corrections facility, place the individual on probation for not more than three years, or commit the individual to the county jail for not more than one year.   M.C.L. 762.13.   Thus, the individual assigned to youthful trainee status is nonetheless punished for the crime committed. The individual assigned to youthful trainee status derives a benefit from the status if he successfully completes the punishment imposed.   M.C.L. 762.14 provides in relevant part:

 

(1) If consideration of an individual as a youthful trainee is not terminated and the status of youthful trainee is not revoked as provided in section 12 of this chapter [MCL 762.12], upon final release of the individual from the status as youthful trainee, the court shall discharge the individual and dismiss the proceedings.

 

(2) An assignment of an individual to the status of youthful trainee as provided in this chapter is not a conviction for a crime and, except as provided in subsection (3), the individual assigned to the status of youthful trainee shall not suffer a civil disability or loss of right or privilege following his or her release from that status because of his or her assignment as a youthful trainee.

 

* * *

 

(4) Unless the court enters a judgment of conviction against the individual for the criminal offense under section 12 of this chapter, all proceedings regarding the disposition of the criminal charge and the individual's assignment as youthful trainee shall be closed to public inspection, but shall be open to the courts of this state, the department of corrections, the department of social services, and law enforcement personnel for use only in the performance of their duties.Limitations on Who Is Eligible However, the Michigan Court of Appeals in 2012 did set certain limitations on who would NOT be eligible for Holmes Youthful Trainee status.  PEOPLE v. KHANANI. Docket No. 301138.-- March 01, 2012 That case is set forth in more detail later, but by way of example one of the defendants was being considered for  Holmes Youthful Trainee status for two crimes.  He committed a very serious third crime: home invasion of an occupied dwelling. This was within 21 days after being in court. The trial Court still granted Holmes Trainee status. The Michigan Court of Appeals rejected that and said the trial court had abused its discretion in allowing that particular person to be considered for and/or continue as a Holmes Youthful Trainee.

 

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT EXCEPTION: Before 2004 if the youth was involved in a sexual offense, his status as a Holmes Youthful Trainee required him to be placed on the Sexual Offenders Registration List. The Legislature had amended the YTA (Holmes Youthful Trainee Act) to account for the creation of the Sexual Offenders Registration Act.   Specifically, M.C.L. § 762.14(3) provided:

 

An individual assigned to youthful trainee status for a listed offense enumerated in section 2 of the sex offenders registration act is required to comply with the requirements of that act.

 

In fact, M.C.L. § 28.724(5) provides that the sentencing court may not enter an order of disposition or assign an individual to youthful trainee status until it determines that the individual is registered with the local law enforcement or sheriff's department, or the Department of State Police.  Once registered, the individual must comply with the SORA for a period of twenty-five years following the person's date of the initial registration or for ten years following the person's release from a state correctional facility, whichever is longer.   M.C.L. 28.725(6).

 

The trial courts concluded that compliance with the Sexual Offenders Registration Act led to absurd results and deprived defendants of the “second chance” offered by the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.   

 

 However the Michigan Supreme Court rejected that position stating in People v. McIntire, 461 Mich. 147, 155–160, 599 N.W.2d 102 (1999)

 

... a sex offender's compliance with both the SORA and the YTA does not lead to absurd results.   If an individual successfully completes YTA status, the court shall discharge the individual and dismiss the proceedings.   M.C.L. 762.14(1).   Despite having committed a crime, the individual is not deemed as having been convicted of a crime for purposes of the Code of Criminal Procedure.   M.C.L. 762.14(2).  

 

... However, the Legislature has concluded that law enforcement agencies and the public should, nonetheless, continue to be apprised of the individual's whereabouts for purposes of tracking the offender and for the safety of the public. Thus, the individual is still provided a benefit by having YTA status, but is not excused from the registration procedures of the SORA.

 

 NOTE: The court was missing the real world situations where a trial attorney may allow his client to plead guilty when, in fact, there is a distinct possibility that the client would not be found guilty, but for reasons of all concerned this may have been the best result. However, the attorney would, after this decision, have to explain the twenty-five (25) year sexual offender, the effect that will most likely result to the youth who may have made his or her first major mistake during an illegal, but consensual, teen age intimate romance. [fn1] The youth would be a Registered Sexual Offender for twenty-five (25) years. That Sexual Offender record was open to the public and often resulted in employment denials.

 

2004 AMENDMENT: Since 2004 there had been an amendment to both the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act and the Sexual Offenders Registration Act. The Amendment provides that people involved in youthful consensual sexual acts, although the acts are illegal and immoral, will not have to suffer the punishment of  being put on the Sexual Offenders List for twenty-five (25) years. However those who had been involved in a minor sexual offense, who had been a Holmes Youthful Trainee before October1, 2004 did have to register.

 

Although the youth must admit his guilt, under the Holmes Act, since 2004 the state has determined that assignment to the Holmes Youthful Trainee status is not a conviction:

 

(2) An assignment of an individual to the status of youthful trainee as provided in this chapter is not a conviction for a crime And if a period of probationary activity that is successfully completed this will result in there being no public record.  

 

However the Holmes dismissal does not result in an expungement of a  record. But,  the youth does not later have to report the matter as conviction on his applications for employment or for the armed services. A dismissal of all charges is regarded by most employers as if the charge had never been leveled.  This is no public  record.  And only certain state and police agencies can maintain these records thereafter. Those agencies may refer to those records only in the performance of their duties. The Michigan Attorney General has allowed the Michigan State Police to view the records, when considering someone for employment.  See Attorney General Opinion No. 5373, October 5, 1978.

 

But in  2009, in  People v. Dipiazza, 286 Mich.App 137, 141; 778 NW2d 264 (2009) made a ruling in favor of all Holmes Youthful Trainees.

 

FACTS: Robert DiPiazza, age 18, had consensual sexual intercourse with his then-14-year-old (almost age 15) high school sweetheart (who later became his wife). A high school teacher had found a photograph of the two and contacted the local prosecutor. Subsequently, he pled guilty to one count of attempted CSC, 3d degree, and was sentenced under the HYTA in August, 2004. He successfully completed his term of probation. The Sexual Offenders Registration Act was not amended until six weeks after he was sentenced.

 

The young man who had been placed on the Sexual Offenders List, later married this same high school sweetheart. He kept losing jobs or being turned down, so that he couldn’t support his young wife and child. Robert Dipiazza applied to the Courts for relief. The lower court was asked to order his name be removed from the Sexual Offender List. The court, in denying the relief, stated:  

“If  I had some discretion, yours is one of those Romeo and Juliet cases where I would probably grant your relief.”

 

 The matter was appealed and the Michigan court of Appeals ruled that a person who was placed  on  the list before October 1, 2004, but has only the one legal and moral sexual indiscretion may have his/her name taken off the Sexual Offenders Registration and they ordered his name removed.  People v. Dipiazza, 286 Mich.App 137, 141; 778 NW2d 264 (2009). [fn2]

 

With the 2009 case law and the 2004 amendment, that clears up the Holmes Youthful Trainee and Sexual Offender Registration Act conflict, if an attorney does not at least consider and discuss this possibility with the youth and his parents, legal guardian or sponsors, he has not probably explored all the possibilities that should be explored in a given case. It might be, however, that he/she has considered it and not communicated that to her/his client.  However, because of the benefits of the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act it should be considered and discussed with the client, the Prosecutor and the Judge on the case.  If your attorney has not discussed this with you, it would be beneficial to you to copy this information and make sure it gets to your attorney.

 

Who Is Not Eligible for Holmes Youthful Trainee Status?

 

Finally in 2012, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court does not have absolute, unbounded discretion in Holmes Youthful Trainee status. Some may not receive Holmes Youthful Trainee status.

 

PEOPLE v. KHANANI.        Mich App       Docket No. 301138.-- March 01, 2012

 

Before: DONOFRIO, P.J., and STEPHENS and RONAYNE Krause, JJ.

 

The prosecution appeals... the sentences imposed following defendant's guilty pleas in three cases. First, in LC No. 09–030086–FJ, defendant pleaded guilty of identity theft, MCL 445.65, and stealing or retaining a financial transaction device without consent, MCL 750.157n(1). Second, in LC No. 10–001149–FH, defendant pleaded guilty of breaking and entering a vehicle causing damage, MCL 750.356a(3), larceny from a motor vehicle, MCL 750.356a(1), and stealing or retaining a financial transaction device without consent, MCL 750.157n(1). Third, in LC No. 10–003752–FH, defendant pleaded guilty of first-degree home invasion, MCL 750.110a(2). For each offense the trial court sentenced defendant to one year in jail without early release and three years' probation under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), MCL 762.11 et seq. In all three cases, we reverse and remand for re-sentencing. Further, defendant shall have an opportunity to withdraw his guilty pleas on any conditional pleas predicated on HYTA status being granted.

 

The prosecution argued that the trial court abused its discretion by granting youthful-trainee status to defendant. The Court agreed.

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