NO! You should NOT just plead to Youthful Offender (YO) in Tuscaloosa Municipal Court. I was there the other day and saw students plead "YO" to MIP (Minor In Possession) and Improper ID cases. I understand you don't want your parents to know and may not want to hire an attorney. And "YES", the court file is sealed for YO cases after you plead AND the City usually does not report those arrests to the State (so it doesn't show up on the computer database). HOWEVER, if you are EVER asked on an employment application if you were "ARRESTED" the answer is YES! And lying is grounds for firing later. It matters if you plead to YO.
WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL ABOUT HOW YOUR CASE IS HANDLED?
Here Is An Example Of How Being Arrested Can Affect Your Life: I had a student who got a Public Intoxication charge that I got dismissed (and YO) and then, without telling me, she got an "open beverage" ticket. She was 21 at the time and simply had a drink "outside" the legal permissible limit of the restaurant. She pled guilty and paid the fine. A year later her Father called me to ask what was going on. She had applied for a position as a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER in a school system, NOT a employed position, just a substitute and she was DENIED the job because of the ticket. Had she called me I would have gotten the case dismissed for her and she could have filed an expungement case (on that charge) later.
I know you don't want to tell your parents or waste money, but this is about your future. But however well meaning, your friend or classmate is not smarter than the lawyers in this town. Don't rely on their "advice", talk to someone who has the skill, training and experience to give you the full understanding of your situation. A YO plea means you have plead to being a "delinquent" (like a juvenile), but you CANNOT EXPUNGE a guilty plea. When you are asked if you were ever "ARRESTED" you want to say "NO" if possible. There are some exceptions to an Expungement, i.e. you have to admit to a charge for the U.S. Government, banking and financial institutions and a few others. To EVERYBODY ELSE the State treats an expunged case like it NEVER happened.