YOUTHFUL OFFENDER STATUS AND WHAT IT MEANS IN NEW YORK
Youthful Offender means anyone who commits a crime while still under the age of 19 years of age. In those situations, a judge can and will set aside a conviction for most crimes on the basis that the defendant was under 19 at the time of the offense.
That doesn't mean the defendant isn't punished for the crime, but it does mean he/she doesn't suffer a conviction for that crime. This is a very important distinction since most crime is committed by young people under the age of 23 and the majority are under 19. The purpose of this provision is to help young people under 19 get "one bite of the apple" before they are given a conviction for a crime, which can ruin their lives for most of their lives.
In most cases YO Youthful Offender status will be granted, unless the Judge determines that it was such a heinous crime that the person deserves to have a criminal record and refuses YO treatment. Most of the time its granted.