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Alaska First-Degree Murder

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

In the United States, homicide is typically divided into two main categories: murder and manslaughter. However, both of these categories have further levels of their own. In Alaska, murder is divided into first-degree and second-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most severe homicide charge under Alaska law and consequently carries the strictest penalties.

Alaska First-Degree Murder Statute

The following table outlines the basics of Alaska's first-degree murder law.

Code Section

AS 11.41.100, Murder in the First Degree

What is Prohibited?

A person can be charged with first-degree murder if he or she commits one of the following acts:

  1. With intent to cause death, either causes death or compels a person to commit suicide by way of duress or deception.
  2. Knowingly engages in conduct directed against a child under 16 years old, and – with criminal negligence – inflicts serious physical injury on the child with at least two separate acts, and one of the acts results in the child’s death.
  3. Commits or attempts to commit a sexual offense or kidnapping of a child under 16 years old, and the child dies during the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate flight from that offense.
  4. Commits or attempts to commit criminal mischief in the first degree and a person other than a participant dies during the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate flight of that offense.
  5. Commits terroristic threatening in the first degree and a person other than a participant dies during the course of, in furtherance of, or in immediate flight of that offense.

A person can be charged with first-degree murder in the acts described in (3) through (5) if he or she is acting alone, or with one or more persons.

Penalty

A person who is convicted of first-degree murder can be sentenced to prison for a term between 20 and 99 years. A mandatory 99 year prison term is imposed on a person convicted of first-degree murder in the following instances:

  1. The defendant is convicted of murdering a uniformed or otherwise clearly identified peace officer, correctional employee, or firefighter who was engaged in the performance of official duties at the time of the murder.
  2. The defendant was previously convicted of first-degree or second-degree murder, or a homicide under the laws of another jurisdiction that contain elements similar to first or second-degree murder under Alaskan law.
  3. The defendant substantially tortured the victim.
  4. The defendant is convicted of murder and personally caused the death of a person (other than a participant) during the course of a robbery.
  5. The defendant is a peace officer who used his or her position to facilitate the murder.

In addition to a prison sentence, a person convicted of first-degree murder can also be fined up to $500,000.

Defenses

Generally, the defense to murder depends on the specific facts of the case. In Alaska, defenses to murder are outlined in AS 11.41.115.

Alaska First-Degree Murder Law: Related Resources

You can visit FindLaw's Criminal Law section for more information and articles regarding this topic. If you or someone close to you is facing a murder charge or any other criminal charges, it's in your best interests to consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area.

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