If you’re facing a misdemeanor, it’s a big mistake to assume that the charges brought against you aren’t serious. While misdemeanors don’t carry the same penalties as felonies, they can still have a lasting impact on your life and livelihood upon conviction. Not only can this offense come with consequences like fines, incarceration, and probation — but a conviction becomes part of your criminal record and can affect your standing in the community, as well as your job prospects. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, it’s crucial to have a skilled attorney on your side who can fight for the best possible outcome on your behalf.

What is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is a type of criminal offense typically punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a substantial fine. Although they are considered less serious than felonies, a conviction can still have the potential to change your life. Misdemeanors in Alaska include a variety of offenses such as the following:

  • Assault in the fourth degree
  • Harassment
  • DUI (if no prior charges)
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Shoplifting
  • Criminal mischief (commonly referred to as “vandalism”)
  • Trespassing
  • Reckless driving
  • Petty theft
  • Violation of open container law
  • Damage of property
  • Drug possession
  • Leaving the scene of an accident

There are two categories of misdemeanors in Alaska. Under Alaska State law, misdemeanors are divided into Class A and Class B. Class A misdemeanors include more serious crimes such as theft of property valued at $250 but less than $750. The penalties for a Class A misdemeanor can include up to one year in jail and a fine up to $25,000. Class B misdemeanors are characterized as those that are less serious than Class A misdemeanors and can be punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $2,000.

The criminal statute of limitations for misdemeanors in Alaska is five years. This means the prosecution must file charges within this time frame. However, if a defendant is living in hiding, the deadline to bring charges can be tolled by a maximum of three years.

What Impact Can a Misdemeanor Conviction Have on Your Life?

A misdemeanor conviction can have significant consequences on various aspects of your life. A criminal history can impact your ability to find good employment, make it more difficult to obtain financial aid to fund your education, and reduce your chances of admission to college. You might also have a harder time obtaining a professional license with a misdemeanor conviction or getting security clearance for a government position.

In addition to the professional and educational ramifications of a misdemeanor, it can also impact your family life. If the offense with which you were charged involved domestic abuse or another crime involving the family, it can affect child custody or your right to adopt a child. A landlord might also deny your rental application if you have a criminal history that occurred within a specific time frame. Other consequences of a misdemeanor conviction can include the loss of your right to possess a firearm and loss of your driving privileges, depending on the specific offense.

It's essential to have the representation of a misdemeanor attorney who can create a solid defense strategy and will work to reduce the charges against you or get them dismissed.

Possible Defenses for Misdemeanor Charges

A good misdemeanor attorney will know how to evaluate your case and create a defense strategy to achieve the best possible results. The strategy implemented will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. For instance, if you’ve been charged with assault in the fourth degree, your attorney may be able to assert the affirmative defense of self-defense. If exigent circumstances existed when you got behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, you may be able to argue the necessity defense for a DUI charge. Other possible affirmative defenses for a misdemeanor can include entrapment, duress, or insanity.

In addition, a knowledgeable misdemeanor attorney may be able to develop a defense strategy based on mistaken identity, an alibi, or a Constitutional violation. Importantly, if law enforcement failed to follow proper protocol — resulting in a violation of your Constitutional rights — the evidence they obtained may not be admissible in court. For example, if police didn’t obtain a search warrant before conducting a search of your home or vehicle, they may have violated your Fourth Amendment rights. In the event you were not read your Miranda warning upon being taken into police custody, any statements made to law enforcement may be inadmissible. Establishing a Constitutional violation can sometimes lead to a dismissal or acquittal.

Contact an Experienced Alaska Misdemeanor Attorney

If you are facing misdemeanor charges, it’s vital to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Attorney Eric Derleth, known as the Trial Guy, is dedicated to providing high-quality legal services to those who have been arrested for a wide range of misdemeanors in Alaska and works to secure the best possible outcome in each of their cases. Proudly serving Anchorage, Soldotna, Kenai, Palmer, Wasilla, and other areas of Alaska, our phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 907-262-9164 to schedule a free consultation at our Anchorage or Soldotna office, or contact us online.