When a defendant commits a crime while under the age of 21, the Alabama Code provides that the judge may, in lieu of trying a defendant as an adult, instead adjudicate the defendant as a youthful offender. Youthful offender adjudications are not criminal convictions, and records regarding youthful offender adjudications are sealed.
In some circumstances, the judge is obliged to inform the defendant of his right to apply for youthful offender status. In other circumstances, the burden is on the defendant to request youthful offender status. The decision to grant youthful offender rests solely upon the judge.