Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Violations in Alaska
The criminal justice system in the state of Alaska categorizes offenses as felonies, misdemeanors, and violations. There are a few exceptions to this classification, such as murder, kidnapping, and selected sex offenses. The exceptions are unclassified felonies and are considered the most serious offenses in Alaska. The Alaska criminal law offers guidelines for offense classification, definition, and sentencing.
What is a felony in Alaska?
In Alaska, felonies are typically offenses that cause serious injury, a risk of serious injury, or any other form of violence towards a person. They are punishable by prison terms of more than one year, fines, probation, community service, forfeiture, or rehabilitation programs (AS 12.55.015).. When an Alaska crime is tried, the court may combine any of the penalties as it deems necessary for each offense. Felonies are categorized into classes A, B, and C in Alaska, depending on the severity of the crime (AS 11.81.250)..
- Unclassified felonies: these are considered the most serious offenses in Alaska, and they are assigned the most severe penalties. Examples of unclassified felonies are first-degree murder, the murder of an unborn child, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree sexual assault, sex-trafficking, and kidnapping. They are punishable by fines of up to $500,000. The prison terms for each offense are specified in AS 12.55.125. For example, persons convicted of first-degree murder will be sentenced to imprisonment for no less than 30 years and no more than 99 years. If the murder was of a police officer or any other law enforcement agent who was killed in action, convicted persons will be sentenced to 99 years in state prison.
- Class A felony: next to unclassified felonies, these are the most serious offenses in Alaska. Class A felonies are acts that cause serious bodily injury to another person or put them at risk of serious bodily injury. They are punishable by imprisonment in state prison for up to 20 years and fines of up to $250,000 (AS 12.55.125, 12.55.035). First-degree arson is a Class A felony in Alaska (AS 11.46.400).
- Class B felony: felonies in this class are acts that cause less severe injuries to another person than felonies in Class A. They also include aggravated offenses against public order and property interests. Class B felonies are punishable by prison terms of up to 10 years in state prison, fines of up to $100,000, or both imprisonment and fines. (AS 12.55.125, 12.55.035). Scheming to defraud is a Class B felony in Alaska (AS 11.46.600).
- Class C felony: these are offenses considered more serious than misdemeanors but less serious than Class A or B felonies. Class C felonies are punishable by imprisonment for up to five years, fines of $50,000, or both imprisonment and fines. (AS 12.55.125, 12.55.035). Apart from unclassified felonies, offenses classified as felonies without specific penalties in their defining statutes will be considered Class C felonies. Receiving commercial bribes is a Class C felony in Alaska (AS 11.46.660).
What are some examples of felonies in Alaska?
Some examples of offenses classified as felonies in Alaska include:
- Criminal mischief
- Misconduct involving weapons
- Criminal burning of forested land
- Criminal impersonation
- Criminal possession of a forgery device
- Misapplication of property
- Deceptive business practices
- Criminal use of a computer
- Unlawful use of DNA samples
Can I get a Felony Removed from a Court Record in Alaska?
Alaska’s criminal law does not provide for the expungement or removal of felony records. However, if a person is convicted of a felony based on a false accusation or a case of mistaken identity, such a person may request that records relating to the case be sealed. Each criminal justice agency in Alaska can only seal records they are responsible for maintaining. Applicants must complete a written request to seal criminal justice information and submit it to the head of the agency responsible for maintaining the records in question. However, it must be provable beyond reasonable doubt that the person was falsely accused or their identity was mistaken (AS 12.62.180).. If a person’s felony records are sealed under these conditions, they may legally say that they were never arrested, charged for, or convicted of the crime. Conditions under which sealed records can be disclosed include:
- For auditing or record management
- For review by the subject of the record
- For research and statistical purposes
- For criminal justice employment
- For use in preventing harm to another person
- For other uses authorized by court order or state statutes
Felony charges that were dismissed or convictions that have been set aside will remain on the person’s criminal history. However, when a conviction is set aside, the record is considered past conviction information (AS 12.62.900).. It contains such information as any sentencing, probation, or parole terms, and information confirming the reversal, vacation, or pardon of the conviction.
Apart from imprisonment, fines, forfeiture, and any other penalties imposed by the state statutes and the court, felony convictions have other consequences. These may include a loss of right such as:
- The right to vote and to serve on a jury: persons convicted of felonies lose their voting rights on conviction (AS 09.20.20, 33.30.241). However, these rights will be restored on the unconditional discharge of the convicted person. As provided by AS 12.55.185, unconditional discharge means that the convicted person has been released from all the disabilities arising from their conviction, including parole and probation.
- The right to hold public office: persons who are not eligible to vote may not declare candidacy to hold public office (AS 15.25.30). Convicted felons may also not serve on boards of education. As stipulated by AS 14.08.045, a person’s seat on a school board must be declared vacant on conviction of a felony.
- The right to own, buy, or bear arms: persons convicted of felonies may not buy, carry, or own firearms for up to 10 years following their unconditional discharge (AS 11.61.200). They may also not live in a building where there are concealed firearms, except they have written authorization from the court or law enforcement agencies.
Persons with felony records may also not be eligible for college admissions, affordable housing, and certain federal loans and grants. Some civil rights are restored once a convicted person is unconditionally discharged or if their conviction is set aside. Also, when a convicted person is pardoned by the governor, all their civil rights are restored. Disabilities arising from the conviction are also removed.
Is expungement the same as sealing court records in Alaska?
There are no provisions for the expungement of court records in Alaska’s state statutes. However, under certain circumstances, court records may be sealed. When a court record is sealed in Alaska, it is retained on the criminal justice information system of the agency responsible for maintaining such records. Access to the records is restricted to only authorized persons (AS 12.62.900) and uses authorized by court order or state statutes.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Alaska?
In Alaska, accurate felony convictions cannot be expunged or sealed, and therefore will stay indefinitely on a person’s criminal history record. However, as provided by AS 12.62.190, criminal justice agencies may purge records they are responsible for maintaining if the records are deemed unuseful. This could be due to:
- The age of the record
- Death of the record’s subject
- The nature of the offense
- Volume or other record management considerations
When a record is purged, it is deleted or destroyed so that it can no longer be accessed. Each agency determines which records are purged and when.
What is a Misdemeanor in Alaska?
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are less serious than felonies. They typically involve less violence against or risk of injury to a person, less serious offenses against public administration, and properties. They are punishable by no more than one year in county jail and fines of up to $25,000 (AS 11.81.900, 12.55.035).. In Alaska, misdemeanors are grouped into Classes A and B.
- Class A misdemeanor: compared to felonies, these offenses usually involve less serious violence or risk of violence to a person, less serious offenses against decency and public health, and less serious offenses against public order or property interests. They are punishable by prison terms of no more than one year in county jail (AS 12.55.135) and fines of up to $25,000 (AS 12.55.035). Offenses classified as misdemeanors without specified penalties are considered Class A misdemeanors. Unlawful marrying is a Class A misdemeanor in Alaska (AS 11.51.140).
- Class B misdemeanor: these are minor criminal offenses that involve considerably minor risk of violence or bodily injury to a person, minor offenses against public health, and minor offenses against public order of property interests. Except otherwise provided by statutes, Class B misdemeanors are punishable by prison terms of no more than 90 days (AS 12.55.135), fines of up to $2000, or both imprisonment and fines. Second-degree harassment is a Class B misdemeanor. (AS 11.61.120).
What are some examples of Misdemeanors in Alaska?
Some examples of misdemeanors in Alaska include.
Class A Misdemeanor:
- Building or leaving fires
- Setting fires without consent
- Criminal non-support
- Obtaining a signature by deception
- Criminal mischief in the fourth degree
- Misrepresentation of use of a propelled vehicle
- Contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- Simulating the legal process
- False accusation
- Official misconduct
Class B Misdemeanor:
- Criminal mischief in the fifth degree
- Violation of custodian’s duty
- Impersonating a public servant in the second degree
- Criminal trespass in the second degree
- Issuing a bad check of less than $250
- Concealment of merchandise worth more than $250
- Theft in the fourth degree
Can I Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Alaska?
Alaska state statutes do not provide for the expungement or removal of records. However, if it can be proven beyond reasonable doubt that a person was convicted based on a false accusation or mistaken identity, records of such misdemeanors may be sealed (AS 12.62.180).. Such persons may submit a request to seal criminal justice information to the head of the criminal justice agency that maintains records of the offense. If the records are sealed, they will become non-public records, only accessible to subjects of the records or other authorized persons.
Can a DUI Be Expunged in Alaska?
In Alaska, DUI records may not be expunged. Sentence imposition may also not be suspended for DUI offenders (AS 28.35.30).. Persons convicted of DUIs are not eligible for probation unless they serve the minimum terms of imprisonment required and pay the minimum required fines. They may also have their licenses revoked or suspended, or forfeit the vehicle used in the commission of the crime.
What constitutes a Violation in Alaska?
In Alaska, violations are not considered criminal offenses. They are the least serious offenses and are not punishable by terms of imprisonment. Except where otherwise provided by state statutes, violations are punishable by fines of up to $500 (AS 12.55.35).. Violations may also be punished by probation, forfeiture, or any other penalty apart from imprisonment.
What are some examples of Violations in Alaska?
Examples of violations in Alaska include:
- Disregard of a highway obstruction
- Obstruction of highways
- Unlawful possession of an official traffic control device
- Failure to permit visitation with a minor
- Hindering the legislative budget
- Sale of prohibited beverage containers
- Failure to report a violent crime committed against an adult
- Refusal to assist a peace officer or judicial officer
Can Violations be Expunged from an Alaska Criminal Court Record?
Violations are not considered criminal offenses in Alaska. However, records of minor traffic violations may be kept by the department of motor vehicles (DMV). Accumulated offenses may result in a suspension or loss of driving privileges and/or licenses.