Alaska Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws

A conviction for theft or shoplifting carries serious consequences. Learn about the penalties for theft and shoplifting in Alaska.

In Alaska, the crime of theft occurs when someone takes another's property or services with the intent to deprive the owner of their property or services. Theft can occur by physically stealing property or services or through deception. It's also theft to take lost property without using reasonable measures to find the owner.

(Alaska Stat. § 11.46.100 (2020).)

Classification and Punishment for Theft in Alaska

Alaska, like many states, classifies its theft offenses according to the value of the property taken or, in some cases, the type of property regardless of value. Generally, the penalties for theft increase as the value of the property or services stolen increases. Likewise, previous criminal convictions can bump a theft charge up to a higher level in Alaska's classification scheme for theft offenses.

Fourth-Degree Theft

Under Alaska law, theft of property or services valued at less than $250 constitutes theft in the fourth degree (sometimes called petty theft). Fourth-degree theft is a class B misdemeanor, which can result in jail time of not more than 90 days, as well as a fine of $2,000 or less. The penalty bumps up to third-degree theft if the person has three or more theft-related convictions in the past five years.

Third-Degree Theft

A person commits third-degree theft by stealing property or services valued at $250 or more but less than $750. Theft in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of a year or less of jail time and a fine up to $25,000.

The penalty increases to second-degree theft (a felony) if the person received two or more theft-related convictions in the past five years.

Second-Degree Theft

Second-degree theft involves stealing property or services valued at $750 or more but less than $25,000. It's also second-degree theft to steal the following property regardless of its value:

  • firearms or explosives
  • safety or survival equipment from an aircraft or watercraft vessel
  • identification documents, or
  • access devices (such as credit or debit cards, social security card)

A person convicted of second-degree theft faces penalties for a class C felony. The offender may receive a sentence of incarceration for up to five years and a fine of not more than $50,000. However, if the offender has no prior criminal convictions and no other special circumstances exist, the offender may receive a sentence of two years or less.

First-Degree Theft

Theft of property or services valued at more than $25,000 constitutes theft in the first degree. First-degree theft is a class B felony. If a court convicts an offender of theft in the first degree, the offender can receive a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $100,000. If the person has no prior felony convictions, Alaska's law provides that the sentencing range is one to three years.

(Alaska Stat. §§ 11.46.120 to .150; 12.55.035; 12.55.135 (2020).)

Shoplifting or Concealment of Merchandise

A person who steals or conceals merchandise from a commercial establishment intending not to pay can face criminal and civil penalties.

Criminal Penalties

Alaska's shoplifting laws (called concealment of merchandise) closely follow the theft laws, except that the shoplifting penalties range from a class B misdemeanor to a class C felony. There's no class B felony for shoplifting. Shoplifting merchandise valued at more than $750 constitutes a class C felony.

For shoplifting penalties and enhancements, see the theft classifications for second-, third-, and fourth-degree theft.

(Alaska Stat. § 11.46.220 (2020).)

Civil Penalties

An offender who shoplifts merchandise also faces civil penalties. A shoplifter is liable to the owner or seller of the merchandise (the store owner) for:

  • any actual damages caused by the shoplifting incident
  • the lesser of $1,000 or the retail value of the shoplifted merchandise, and
  • an additional penalty of $100 to $200.

If the shoplifter is a juvenile, the parent or legal guardian of the minor is liable for the lesser of $500 or the retail value of the shoplifted merchandise, as well as a penalty of $100 to $200.

The judge may also award attorneys' fees to the store owner.

(Alaska Stat. § 9.68.110 (2020).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you face theft or shoplifting charges, speak to a criminal defense attorney right away. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system, defend your rights, and raise a solid defense. Any conviction—even a misdemeanor—carries consequences beyond a criminal conviction. A criminal record can impact your ability to get a job, loan, or housing. Make sure to consult an attorney about the current charges and how a criminal record can impact your future.

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