In June, a 19 year-old male from out of state appeared before a Michigan Court for having consensual sex with a 14-year-old minor female from Michigan. He was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct, MCL 750.520d, for having sex with a minor, even though she lied about her age. Eventually, the teen pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, and a Michigan judge sentenced him to 90 days in jail, five years of probation that barred his use of smartphones and the Internet, and registry on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry for 25 years. His conviction sparked news all over the country, and outraged many about juveniles who are forced to register as sex offenders for consensual sex. Recently, the judge in the case vacated the teen's sentence, and passed the resentencing over to a new judge. After spending 75 days in jail, the teen has hopes for a sentence where he does not have to register as a sex offender and one where he can use the Internet to get back to studying computer science in college. To read more about this case, and the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, click here.
In Michigan, there are certain ways around juvenile sex offender registration, but only in very specific cases. The Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, provides a safety net around teens and young adults that are convicted of certain sex crimes. Though it seems as if all violations of criminal sexual conduct are excluded from HYTA's protection, there are special exceptions for certain aspects of third and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
HYTA specifically states that sections 750d(1)(a) and 750e(1)(a) of the Michigan Compiled Laws are not included in the offenses that make a young person ineligible for HYTA status. These two sections of the third and fourth degree criminal sexual conduct statutes have to do with the age of a complainant. If a complainant is at least 13 years old, but less than 16 years old, and the offender satisfies the age requirement of HYTA (17 to 23), then HYTA will protect the individual and not require he or she to register as a sex offender. HYTA also seals the public record of the individual and does not enter a conviction on the record, which protects the individual from having difficulties with getting into college or getting a job.
Though HYTA doesn't protect all teens convicted of crimes, and its only given at the discretion of judges and prosecutors, it is still a great asset to teens, especially who find themselves in situations like the one featured above.
If you or a loved one is a young adult or teenager and has been charged with a sex crime, The Law Offices of Shannon M. Smith is here to help you. Our office's primary practice of law is focused on defending those charged with or convicted of various sex crimes, including criminal sexual conduct. We are familiar with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA) and also have successfully represented juveniles and teens by using HYTA. Call our office to set up a consultation, if you have questions or need representation.