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Misdemeanors vs. Felonies

What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

When people come to the Law Offices of Steve M. Wells for help from the firm's Alaska criminal defense attorney, one of the first questions they usually ask is, "What penalties am I facing?" The person has come in because he or she has been arrested and charged with a crime. Of course the person wants to know what he or she is up against. Penalties for crimes ranging from DUI, drug possession and firearms offenses to child abuse, rape and murder all depend on how the offense is classified. Under Alaska state law, all crimes are categorized as being either misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies are the most serious type of crime, while the category of misdemeanors encompasses lesser offenses.

What is the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor in Alaska?

State law provides for two subcategories of misdemeanor, class A misdemeanors and class B misdemeanors. If convicted of a class A misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to serve up to a full year in jail, while the maximum sentence for a class B misdemeanor is 90 days in jail. There are, however, certain special circumstances that may influence the sentencing in your case. If, for example, you are accused of committing an assault in an incident of domestic violence, after previously having been released from jail following an arrest for domestic violence, you may be required to serve a minimum of 20 days in jail. In addition to jail time, a misdemeanor is also punishable by fines, with a maximum of $2,000 in fines for a class B misdemeanor and up to $10,000 for a class A misdemeanor.

What penalty can I receive for a felony in Alaska?

As tough as the penalties may be for a misdemeanor, Alaska state law provides even harsher sentences for felonies. The maximum allowable punishment for a felony is 99 years in prison. For example, a conviction for murder carries a sentence of up to 99 years in prison, with an absolute minimum sentence of 20 years behind bars. In addition to murder, there are three general classes of felonies, with the maximum penalties for each as follows:

  • 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

Other factors may influence the sentence that you could receive if convicted of a felony, such as your prior criminal record and history of past convictions, as well as the specific identity of the victim. If, for example, you are accused of attacking a police officer, the sentence would be greater than it would be under other circumstances.

What impact could a conviction have on my future?

The consequences of a criminal conviction, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, extend far beyond fines and imprisonment. For example, you can be placed on probation for years following your release from jail or prison, and may be required to wear a GPS tracking device or to register as a sex offender. Furthermore, you could find that the fact that you have a conviction on your criminal record may present considerable difficulties when the time comes to submit an application for housing, credit or employer – many employers, lending institutions and landlords will simply refuse to accept an application from a convict. If you have been charged with a crime, you simply have too much at stake to take any chances with the outcome of the situation. Contact the Law Offices of Steve M. Wells now for a free case evaluation to discuss your charges and find out what penalties you could be facing.

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Law Offices of Steve M. Wells - Anchorage Criminal Defense Lawyer
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