MARQUETTE — Felony offenders in the State of Michigan aged 17 through 20 can be sentenced under a part of the Michigan Code of Criminal Procedure called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

The act allows young first-time offenders to avoid having a felony record.

“If you are successful on court supervision or with whatever sentence the court imposes, at the end of that period of time, you will not get a criminal record out of that offense. Basically, the conviction does not get enrolled,” said Marquette County Prosecuting Attorney Matt Wiese. “It’s a good act in that it recognizes that people that are young will make a mistake and that we may not want that to scar them for the rest of their life.”

A sentence under HYTA does not rule out incarceration.

“If we think a young person would learn from sitting in jail for three or six months, or even a year, or possibly go to prison for a year, if that would be part of their maturation — growing up and learning from it — but still not getting a record, sometimes we’ll utilize a combination of those things,” Wiese added.

Not all of those who fall in the HYTA age range are eligible to be sentenced under the act.

“You cannot get the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act for certain violent felonies like sex offenses, certain types of kidnapping,” said Wiese. “It has to be something that is not considered a very serious, high-severity felony.”

While the record of this type of sentencing is non-public, it doesn’t just disappear.

“It’s stored privately by the Michigan State Police, and it can be accessed by courts or by law enforcement, and that includes the Prosecutor,” Wiese added. “So that way, an individual doesn’t get one of these dispositions in a different jurisdiction and then come here, commit a new crime, and then get that same benefit.”

The crimes resulting in an HYTA disposition can still be used against a defendant if they commit a subsequent crime. These crimes affect scoring under Michigan’s Sentencing Guidelines, and they can also be used to add a habitual offender status to a case.

Starting August 18th, a change to the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act will extend the potential benefit to those aged 21 through 23. The Prosecutor would need to consent to an HYTA disposition in cases of offenders in this age range.

Click here to read more about the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.