How the Michigan HYTA Act Can Help Clear Your Criminal Record


A Second Chance: How the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) Can Help Young Offenders in Michigan


  • HYTA status can help you avoid a criminal record — a life-changing opportunity.
  • Preventing a criminal record improves your employment, housing, and life outcomes.
  • You may be eligible for HYTA if you commit a crime between 17 and 26. 
  • Your sentence still might include a fine, probation, and community service. 
  • An experienced criminal defense attorney significantly improves your chances of gaining HYTA status.


  1. What is the Michigan Holmes Youthful Trainee Act?
  2. Eligibility Criteria
  3. How to Apply
  4. What to Expect with HYTA Status
  5. Benefits of HYTA
  6. Legal Help for Young Offenders

If you’re between 17 and 26 years old at the time of a criminal offense, you may qualify for the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA). The HYTA allows young offenders in Michigan to prove that the criminal activity was outside of their typical good conduct. It enables them to prevent the conviction from being on their criminal record. Learn about HYTA eligibility in Michigan, how to apply, and how to find legal help for young offenders. 


An eraser erases a criminal record in accordance with how the Michigan HYTA program works for young offenders.What is the Michigan HYTA Program?

The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act is a program that allows young offenders between the ages of 17 and 26 to avoid a criminal record. For certain misdemeanors and felonies, the court does not enter a conviction, and it does not appear on your criminal record. The cases are sealed and hidden from the public, and the convictions dismissed upon probation completion. You must plead guilty to the criminal offense so the judge can assign you a “youthful trainee” status with HYTA probation terms. HYTA status is possible for certain sex offenses, allowing you to avoid registering with the Sex Offender Registration Act List (SORA).  

Frequently asked question:

Q: “Does the HYTA Program show up on a background check?”

A: No! While the offense is still available to prosecutors and police if you’re being investigated for a new crime, it is hidden from the public records.


A man is sitting at a desk in handcuffs

Michigan HYTA Eligibility Criteria

The best way to know if you’re eligible for HYTA status is to talk to a qualified attorney in Michigan familiar with the program. They can assess your criminal history and explain your chances of achieving HYTA status. You may not receive the status even if you meet the basic criteria, but with a skilled criminal defense attorney by your side, you have the best chance of being granted this life-changing status.

Note: In some cases, the victim of the crime is consulted about the proposed special sentencing. 

To qualify for HYTA in Michigan, you must:

  • Be between the ages of 17 and 26 years old at the time you commit the offense
  • Be under review for a qualified misdemeanor or felony, which can include multiple charges
  • Plead guilty and accept responsibility for the crime
  • Have a minimal criminal history
  • Consent to being in the alternative program and comply with the probation terms
  • If the offense happened between ages 21 and 26, you must have an attorney represent you to be eligible for HYTA

Certain offenses are not eligible for HYTA status, including:

  • Certain misdemeanors or felonies that do not fall under the program’s criteria, such as certain sexual offenses
  • Felony for which the maximum penalty is a life sentence
  • Major controlled substance offense
  • Traffic offense
  • Criminal sexual conduct 1st and 2nd degree
  • Criminal sexual conduct 3rd or 4th degree with certain provisions such as the victim being forced or coerced or being mentally incapable of consent
  • Criminal sexual conduct that involved a victim under the age of 13

Obtaining a HYTA sentence for a sex offense is more difficult than for non-sex offenses. The defendant must prove that he or she is unlikely to commit further SORA offenses. A criminal defense attorney in Grand Rapids can give you the best chance at gaining HYTA status for a sexual offense and help you avoid lifelong consequences. 

How to Apply for HYTA in Michigan

To apply for HYTA, you must prepare all documents before your hearing with the judge. You cannot achieve HYTA status after a conviction at trial. Work with an experienced criminal defense attorney before your trial to ensure you have the best chance at gaining HYTA status. 

Here are the HYTA application steps:

1. Prepare Documents

You and your attorney prepare documents, including a letter of apology to the victim or community, proof of community service, and letters of support from family, friends, and the community to show that you are worthy of a second chance. Many judges like to see that the family is working to address issues and support you in changing behavior. 

2. Pay Restitution

Pay restitution before your hearing to show that you are responsible and worthy of a second chance.

3. Attend Hearing

You and your attorney attend the hearing. It will typically be a 30 to 60-minute hearing. Your attorney will explain what you need to do at this hearing.

4. Prove Your Candidacy 

Your attorney shows the judge that you are a good candidate for HYTA status and you plead guilty to the offense.

5. Present Documents

Your attorney presents your documents to the judge, including your letter of apology, proof of community service, and letters of support from family, friends, and the community.

6. Judge Makes Decision

The trial judge decides if they want to grant you HYTA status. If HYTA status is given, your case is sealed and hidden from the public. Once you complete your sentence and probation, the conviction is dismissed and never appears on your criminal record. 

What to Expect with HYTA Status 

If you receive HYTA status, you can expect: 

  • A sentence similar to the sentence you would otherwise receive
  • HYTA probation terms that typically go up to three years
  • A fine
  • Community service requirement 
  • Required school or employment attendance
  • Possible drug and alcohol testing and therapy
  • Possible mental health counseling
  • Possible jail time, depending on the severity of the crime, housed in a special unit

If you violate the terms of your probation, the trial court may revoke your HYTA status, and the conviction would be on your public criminal record. 

Benefits of HYTA in Michigan

Gaining HYTA status in Michigan is life-changing. It prevents a criminal record, which can have a detrimental impact on your future. Here are the main benefits of HYTA in Michigan:

  • No conviction on your criminal record
  • Dismissal of all charges
  • Offense and hearing details sealed immediately from the public
  • Ability to correct behavior and prevent criminal offenses in the future
  • Better school, employment, and housing opportunities throughout your life

Without HYTA status, a criminal conviction can follow a person for the rest of their life and impact future employment, housing, and more. That’s why finding a criminal defense attorney to support your case is critical. 

Find the Best Criminal Defense Attorney for your HYTA Needs!

HYTA status is a pathway for a fresh start, and gaining this status is possible when you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Since opening my practice in 2007, I have handled hundreds of HYTA cases. I have the knowledge and skills to protect you and limit the penalties you face. HYTA status is not a right, and it is not guaranteed, which is why you need to put your best foot forward.

If you are a youth under 26 with a conviction, contact Mark Caldwell at 616-915-6576,, or fill out this contact form to receive a free consultation. I’m highly experienced in offering legal counsel regarding the HYTA and passionate about helping youth secure the best possible outcome for a successful future. 

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