Unlike some states, Alaska criminal law directly addresses the use of stun guns, which, when used during the commission of a crime, can result in being charged with a felony that carries a possible prison sentence.
Alaska law defines the term “defensive weapon” as an electric stun gun or device that shoots mace or a similar chemical but is not designed to cause death or serious physical injury. Several criminal statutes include the use of a defensive weapon or deadly weapon as an element of the offense. This article focuses on how the user of a stun gun may be charged with one or more crimes.
(Alaska Stat. § 11.81.900)
A person may commit misconduct involving weapons in the third degree in a number of ways, several of which involve the use or possession of a defensive weapon. A person who violates a protective order by committing first or second-degree criminal trespass also commits the crime of third-degree misconduct involving weapons if the person is in possession of a stun gun or other defensive weapon.
Misconduct involving weapons in the third degree is a Class C felony. A Class C felony carries a maximum of five years in prison, although a defendant with no prior felonies will face no more than two years in prison.
(Alaska Stat. § § 11.61.200, 12.55.125)
Possession of a stun gun may also form the basis of a fourth-degree misconduct involving weapons charge. A person commits that offense by knowingly selling a defensive weapon to a person 17 or younger. A person who knowingly possesses a defensive weapon while on the grounds of a preschool, elementary, junior high, or secondary school, or while participating in a school event, commits the crime of misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree unless the person has permission of the school district’s chief administrative officer to possess the defensive weapon.
A conviction for misconduct involving weapons in the fourth degree is a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors carry a maximum possible sentence of one year in jail.
(Alaska Stat. § § 11.61.210, 12.55.135)
Like misconduct involving weapons, there are several ways in which a person may commit robbery.
A person who uses or attempts to use a stun gun or other defensive weapon to take or attempt to take by force property from an individual is guilty of robbery in the first degree. A person also commits robbery in the first degree when, in taking or attempting to take property from another, represents through words or conduct that the person (or an accomplice) is armed with a stun gun or other defensive weapon.
Robbery in the first degree is a Class A felony. Class A felonies can carry up to 20 years in prison, although a defendant with no prior felony convictions whose use of a stun gun does not cause serious physical injury or death will be sentenced to a term between five and eight years in prison. A defendant with no prior felonies who is convicted of first-degree robbery involving the use of a stun gun where serious physical injury or death results, or where the victim is a police officer, firefighter, correctional employee, or emergency responder performing their duties, faces between seven and 11 years in prison.
(Alaska Stat. § § 11.41.500, 12.55.125)
Alaska criminal law also addresses the use or possession of stun guns by people who are under arrest or serving prison sentences, as well as those who are released from prison on parole.
A person who uses a stun gun to escape from official custody commits the crime of escape in the first degree. Like robbery in the first degree, escape in the first degree is a Class A felony.
(Alaska Stat. § 11.56.300)
A person who brings or attempts to bring a stun gun or other defensive or deadly weapon into a correctional facility commits the offense of promoting contraband in the first degree, a Class C felony.
(Alaska Stat. § 11.56.380)
Under Alaska law, the state parole board may prohibit a prisoner released on parole from possessing a stun gun or other defensive or deadly weapon.
(Alaska Stat. § 33.16.150)
A defendant charged with a crime based on the use of a stun gun may defend against the charge by introducing evidence disproving an essential element of the crime. The defendant may also call into question the prosecutor’s evidence regarding one or more of the crime’s elements.
For example, a defendant charged with first-degree robbery based on the use of a stun gun might testify that the victim did not know that the defendant possessed a stun gun because the defendant did not mention the stun gun and it remained concealed in the defendant’s coat pocket during the encounter with the victim. If the jury believes the defendant’s testimony, then the defendant should be found not guilty of the charge (although the jury may find the defendant guilty of a lesser charge).
If you are charged with violating an Alaska criminal statute based on the use or possession of a stun gun, you should immediately contact an attorney. An attorney can provide invaluable guidance throughout the criminal process while at the same time preparing your defense. An attorney may also negotiate with the prosecutor a reduced charge or dismissal. Retaining a qualified attorney is an essential step when facing criminal charges.