Recently, the Michigan Legislature made what some what call a surprising move…they made life a little bit easier for young criminal defendants. For years, criminal defendants aged 17-20 have able to take advantage of HYTA – the Holmes Youthful Training Act – as a way of avoiding a criminal conviction from staining their record. When a youthful offender pled guilty to a certain offense, he or she, upon successful completion of that probation, would have the conviction suppressed from their criminal record. The determination of whether or not HYTA status would be granted was in the sole discretion of the judge. However, the new HYTA statute, while not perfect, has opened the door for more youthful offenders to be granted HYTA status.
Under the new statute, offenders up the age of 24 are eligible for HYTA probation. However, there is a catch…for those aged 17-20, the decision regarding HYTA still resides with the judge. For those aged 21-23, the decision to allow for HYTA rests not with the judge, but with the prosecutor. This gives the prosecutors more leverage in negotiating pleas for those who wish to receive HYTA probation.
Defendants who enter guilty pleas to life offenses, traffic offenses, major drug offenses, or criminal sexual conduct charges, are disqualified from receiving HYTA probation.
Those placed on HYTA probation may be required to complete school, maintain employment, be placed on electronic tether, or be subject to a number of other requirements. There is also the possibility of spending time a special branch of the MDOC, for up to 3 years. However, there are certain offenses for which a defendant may NOT be sentenced to a term of incarceration.
If you or a family member of friend believe you may be eligible for HYTA probation, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law.
After Re-Trial Defendant Found Not Guilty.
After less than a day of deliberation, a jury returned a “not guilty” verdict for the client of criminal defense attorney, Chris Kessel. The client was charged with one count of CSC – 1st under 13; meaning that the alleged victim was under the age of 13 at the time of the alleged assault. It was alleged that the client had woken up his 11 year old niece in the middle of the night, took her into his bedroom, and raped her. The was based almost exclusively upon the testimony of the complaining witness, who made the allegations.
The case had actually already been tried once, with the jury unable to reach a verdict. At the end of the previous trial the jury was deadlocked at 11-1, for guilty. After the prosecutor’s office decided to re-try the case, the family of the client reached out to Chris Kessel to ask him to represent the client. The trial lasted three days, during which Chris Kessel carefully and meticulously took apart the complaining witness’s story; piece by piece. The girl had told a number of differing versions of the event, each differing from the other. Some of the differences were significant, while others were more minor. However, after cross-examination, it was clear that the young girl was not being truthful. In fact, when confronted with one of the version of the story, even she was forced to admit that what she had previously stated “didn’t make any sense.”
Even with the multiple holes in her story, the prosecution argued that because the client had previously been convicted of a CSC – 1 under 13, he was predisposed to this kind of activity. Thankfully, Chris Kessel was able to tease out testimony from the complaining witness’s sister that both of them knew that the client had been convicted of this crime over 20 years ago…making him an easy target for the lie.
Cross-examining a 12 year old girl about an alleged rape is not something you learn over night. It is something you learn with countless hours of study and experience. Criminal Sexual Conduct cases are not cases that just any attorney can handle. It takes an experienced criminal defense attorney, who knows what buttons to push and when to push them, to successfully defend against this type of charge.
If you or a family member has been charged with allegations of criminal sexual conduct, contact Nessel and Kessel Law today.