Alaska, like many states, divides crimes into misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail. Felonies are more serious crimes that can be punished by time in state prison. Read on to learn how Alaska classifies and penalizes misdemeanor crimes.
Alaska divides misdemeanor offenses into two classes—Classes A and B. Class A is the more serious of the two.
Class A misdemeanors in Alaska are punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $25,000. Examples of class A misdemeanors include fourth-degree assault, violation of a protective order, first-degree harassment, resisting arrest, and reckless endangerment.
Class B misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $2,000. Examples of class B misdemeanors include theft in the fourth degree, fifth-degree criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, and prostitution.
(Alaska Stat. §§ 12.55.035, 12.55.135 (2023).)
Alaska imposes enhanced penalties for certain repeat misdemeanors and misdemeanors associated with gang activities.
Repeat misdemeanors. Several misdemeanor offenses can be enhanced to felonies based on a defendant's criminal history of same or similar convictions. For instance, a third misdemeanor assault in 10 years becomes a class C felony offense. Similar enhancements apply to repeat misdemeanors involving criminal negligent burning and misconduct involving drugs.
Gang-related misdemeanors. Misdemeanors associated with gang activities are increased by an offense level. So a class B misdemeanor becomes a class A misdemeanor, and a class A misdemeanor bumps up to a class C felony.
(Alaska Stat. §§ 11.41.220, 12.55.137 (2023).)
In misdemeanor cases, judges will typically order a sentence immediately or soon after handing down a conviction or entering a guilty verdict or plea.
While jail time is an option, judges often reserve time behind bars for repeat offenses or offenses involving violence or harm. A judge generally has broad discretion in fashioning a sentence and might impose any of the following sentencing alternatives in lieu of jail or as a condition of avoiding jail: probation, suspended entry of judgment, house arrest, community service, or treatment.
However, for certain misdemeanors, Alaska law imposes mandatory minimum jail sentences. When these minimums apply, the law doesn't allow much leniency. Some examples include:
In domestic violence cases, judges must consider the victim's safety before allowing probation. A judge may issue a protective order that prohibits the defendant from contacting the victim, require the defendant to attend counseling, and prohibit the defending from consuming alcohol.
(Alaska Stat. §§ 12.55.101, 12.55.135 (2023).)
Prosecutors must file criminal charges within a certain amount of time after the crime occurred. This time period is referred to as a statute of limitation. In Alaska, most misdemeanors have a statute of limitation of five years. If the prosecutor doesn't file charges within five years of when the offense happened, the defendant can ask the court to dismiss the case. (Alaska Stat. § 12.10.010 (2023).)
If you are charged with a crime, contact a local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A criminal conviction, even for a misdemeanor, can have serious consequences that negatively affect your life for a long time. Talking to an attorney is the best way to make certain that you understand the criminal justice process and can present the strongest possible defense.