Ask a Trooper

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2001

Question: What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

Answer: By definition, a felony is any crime for which the maximum sentence is more than a year in prison, whereas a misdemeanor is any crime for which the maximum sentence is a year or less in jail.

Alaska has four levels of felonies: Unclassified felonies have a maximum sentence of 99 years and a maximum fine of $75,000.

Class A felonies have a maximum sentence of 20 years, class B felonies have a maximum sentence of 10 years, and class C felonies have a maximum sentence of five years. Class A-C felonies also each carry a maximum fine of $50,000.

There are two types of misdemeanors in Alaska. Class A misdemeanors have a maximum jail sentence of one year, and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Class B misdemeanors have a maximum jail sentence of 90 days, and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Certain crimes also have minimum sentences, such as murder in the first degree (20 years) kidnapping (10 years) and DWI (three days for a first offense).

Violations, such as traffic tickets, have a maximum fine of $300, but no jail allowable jail sentence.

On a related note, jails and prisons are not the same thing. Prisons are where convicted felons are housed.

Jails hold those convicted of misdemeanors and those who have been arrested for a crime (felony or misdemeanor), but not yet convicted or sentenced.

If you have questions you would like to ask a trooper, send them to Alaska State Troopers, 4060 Heath St., Homer, AK 99603 or e-mail them to Chad_Goeden@dps.state.ak.us. The Alaska State Troopers remind you to always wear your seat belt. It's the law.



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