According to the most recent statistics, Alaska has become the most violent state in the U.S. The 2016 statistics reveal that there were just over 50 murders and over 800 violent crimes for every 100,000 Alaska residents. This might not sound that much, but both figures are more than any other state, with Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and Tennessee coming close. For every 100,000 Alaskans, 409 were incarcerated in 2016. Not only is Alaska America’s most dangerous city, Anchorage is the state’s most dangerous city.
Crimes of violence in Alaska include murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, rape and robbery. Despite the overall downward trend for most non-violent crimes in Alaska and elsewhere in the U.S., violent crimes have been on the upswing.
The state attitude towards crimes in general has fluctuated over the last decade with a shift in the last two years from a relatively progressive series of legal reforms aimed at reducing the incarceration rate to a sudden change in November 2017 in response to an increase in the crime rate. Most of the earlier reforms were overturned. Some misdemeanors were converted into felonies. Sentences for some crimes were increased and technical violations for pretrial release conditions now result in jail time.
An increasing crime rate is a political hot potato and politicians often think they have to respond to popular sentiment rather than consider genuine research which tends to show that increasing incarceration doesn’t necessarily reduce crime.
Breakdown of the most serious violent crimes in Alaska
The most serious of all violent crimes are first and second degree murder. Alaska does not have the death penalty, so the most severe penalties reserved for first degree murder are life imprisonment, with a minimum period of incarceration of 20 years. A fine of up to 500,000 dollars might also be imposed.
First degree murder involves some degree of premeditation or deliberate intent to kill another person, while second degree murder generally involves the murder of another person while committing another crime, such as arson, burglary, robbery or sexual assault. In other words, someone who commits second degree murder does not set out to kill someone else. The murder happens in the heat of the moment or as an unintended consequence of another action.
Penalties for second degree murder are not much less than for first degree murder; Murder in either first or second degree are considered ‘unclassified felonies.’ That means they don’t fit into the usual hierarchy of felony categories from A to C. The period of imprisonment for a second degree murder ranges from 10 to 99 years, depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Manslaughter is considered a category of homicide in Alaska with murder. Like murder; there are two separate crimes, both felonies. Manslaughter itself is a Class A felony. Manslaughter involves the death of someone through an act of recklessness which does not meet the criteria of first or second degree murder. Manslaughter also includes helping someone to commit suicide. As a Class A felony, it can lead to a period in prison of up to a maximum of 20 years and a fine of up to 250,000 dollars.
The lesser offense of criminally negligent homicide is a Class B felony and as such attracts a penalty of up to 10 years maximum in prison and a fine of up to 100,000 dollars.
With the current ‘tough on crime’ stance taken by the criminal justice system in Alaska you will need a highly experienced criminal defense attorney to help defend you from a charge of homicide or other violent crime. Contact the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage at 907-276-8008.