The “Holmes Youthful Training Act” (HYTA) can be a blessing for a young criminal defendant. If granted, HYTA can keep an offense off of the young defendant’s record. HYTA is not always a vehicle that can be explored. Many factors come into play. For example, the charges must stem from an alleged crime that was committed between after the defendant’s 17th but before their 24th birthday. Also, certain offenses are excluded, such as Capital Offenses, major controlled substance offenses, and traffic offenses. While HYTA may be an option for young defendants charged with misdemeanors and felonies, ultimately HYTA is only granted at the judge’s discretion.
As mentioned, the beauty of HYTA is that it gives the young criminal defendant a chance to have a clean record. This is extremely important if that individual wants to apply for college or jobs in the future. The critical thing to note is that HYTA does not take the possibility of jail time off of the table. HYTA is not available if the defendant chooses to go to trial. HYTA can only come into play with a plea agreement. Again, the common misconception with HYTA is that the defendant cannot end up in county jail or HYTA prison; however, even if an HYTA plea agreement is reached, the defendant still faces the possibility of incarceration until his/her sentencing. A skilled lawyer should not only argue for HYTA but also attempt to protect the client from any incarceration time. Also, if HYTA is the most optimal course for the defendant, the defense lawyer should already have an HYTA Petition, and a Sentencing Memorandum prepared on the day of the plea.