In Alaska, theft offenses involve more than stealing tangible personal property, such as a vehicle, smartphone, or wallet. A person can steal services or legal interests in property. Embezzling cash from an employer is also theft, as is tricking someone into wiring you funds to pay for a nonexistent expense.
This article discusses the definitions and penalties for theft offenses 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 (2023).)
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.
Stealing property or services worth $750 or more is a felony in Alaska.
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.
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 of 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 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:
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.
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, 11.46.130, 11.46.140, 11.46.150, 12.55.035, 12.55.125, 12.55.135 (2023).)
Alaska makes it a class C felony to steal a car, truck, motorcycle, motor home, bus, aircraft, or watercraft. A person convicted of a class C felony faces a prison term of up to five years and a fine of up to $50,000.
(Alaska Stat. §§ 11.46.360 (2023).)
A person who steals merchandise from a retail store can be charged and convicted of theft (as described above). If the person is caught concealing merchandise while still on the premises, they are not off the hook just because they didn't get away with the goods. Alaska has a separate crime for concealment of merchandise.
It's a crime to conceal merchandise with the intent to steal it. The penalties are similar to those in theft laws.
Class B misdemeanor. Concealing merchandise valued at less than $250 is a class B misdemeanor. This offense bumps up to a class A misdemeanor if the person has three or more prior theft-related convictions in the past five years.
Class A misdemeanor. Concealing merchandise valued at $250 or more but less than $750 is a class A misdemeanor. This offense increases to a class C felony for a third offense.
Class C felony. Concealing merchandise valued at $750 or more is a class C felony. This same penalty applies if the merchandise is a firearm (regardless of value).
(Alaska Stat. § 11.46.220 (2023).)
An offender who shoplifts or conceals merchandise may also face civil penalties. A shoplifter is liable to the owner or seller of the merchandise (the store owner) for:
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 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 (2023).)
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.