If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Alaska, it will either be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Many people are confused about the difference and in fact may be unsure what determines a crime at all. Hopefully this blog will make this a little clearer.
What Makes a Crime?
There are many different ways that you can commit an offense, but not all of these are considered criminal acts. For example, if you are caught speeding, unless you are also drunk or acting in a very reckless way, it will be considered an infraction, i.e. a civil offense that will be punishable by a fine, points on your driving license or other sort of punishment but not imprisonment.
Crimes, whether they are misdemeanors or felonies are the more serious antisocial acts that people may carry out from time to time. If you are convicted of a crime in Alaska, you will face at least several months in jail with a maximum sentence of 99 years for the most serious offense.
Punishments for criminal offenders in addition to incarceration may also be fines and having to face a period of probation after release from jail. Other consequences include a criminal record, which can affect your family, your job, applications for college and employment and career prospects. It is advisable to contact an experienced Anchorage criminal defense attorney to defend yourself against a charge, however serious it is as a conviction can affect you and your family for the rest of your life.
Misdemeanors and Felonies Explained
The basic difference between these categories is one of seriousness. The most serious of crimes will be considered felonies. The less serious crimes will be considered to be misdemeanors. In some cases, a misdemeanor that is repeated more than once may then be considered a felony.
In Alaska, the law distinguishes between two sub-categories of misdemeanors: class A and Class B. Class A misdemeanors are more serious than Class B misdemeanors and have correspondingly more severe penalties.
If you are convicted of a class A misdemeanor, you could face a maximum jail sentence of a year and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you are convicted of a Class B misdemeanor, you might face anything up to 90 days in a county jail as well as a fine of up to $2,000.
Examples of misdemeanors include: assaults which do not involve the use of weapons or serious physical injury, driving while intoxicated (DUI), minor weapons offenses and thefts involving a value of less than $500.
All the more serious crimes, such as acts of physical violence, rape etc. are categorized as felonies. There are three classes of felonies in Alaska law: Class A (most serious), Class B and Class C felonies (the least serious). Examples of felonies are burglary, kidnapping and aggravated assaults, manslaughter, murder, robbery, serious weapons offenses and sexual assault and abuse.
Punishment for felonies is more severe than for misdemeanors as shown below.
Class A Felony – Up to 20 years in prison and as much as $250,000 in fines
Class B Felony – Up to 10 years in prison and as much as $100,000 in fines
Class C Felony – Up to 5 years in prison and as much as $50,000 in fines
The Death Sentence
There is no death sentence under state law in Alaska.
Note that one additional area of confusion is that you can also be charged with a federal crime. Federal crimes are separate from state crimes and are dealt with differently. Typical federal crimes are those associated with tax fraud, terrorism or gang activities. FYI, tax lawyer Sodowsky can help with tax issues.
As with state crimes, there are different categories of crime which receive specific punishment if convicted. Generally, federal sentencing tends to be more fixed than state sentencing. In other words, a judge who determines the punishment for a state crime has more latitude to decide what should be the punishment and whether the crime is regarded as a misdemeanor or a felony.
How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
You cannot receive a criminal record unless you are proven to have committed an offense beyond reasonable doubt. That means that if you have been accused of a crime in Alaska and are charged with an offense that could lead to a criminal record you should serials consider using an experienced criminal defense attorney to defend you. The consequences of being convicted unjustly are huge and could affect you and your family for the rest of your life. Contact one of our dedicated Anchorage criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan as soon as you are able to do so at (907) 276-8008.