As a legal term, homicide or murder refers to a person’s death that was caused by another person. It is not necessarily a crime; for example, it is legal to kill in self-defense if that is the necessary level of force to protect yourself.
When it comes to illegal homicide, Alaska law recognizes several different kinds, divided according to the intentions of the defendant and other factors. This article will briefly outline these charges according to murder law.
First Degree Murder
This is a deliberate, premeditated killing. If a person deliberately kills a woman’s unborn child, they will be tried as if they had killed an older child. (This does not apply to doctors who perform abortions with their patients’ consent.) This is a Class A felony, punishable by a mandatory life sentence.
If a person kills someone while committing a dangerous felony (rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping or arson), they will be charged with first degree murder, even if the death was an accident. This type of trial is also known as “felony murder.”
Second Degree Murder
This is a deliberate killing that was not premeditated. Some people are initially charged with second degree; others are originally charged with first degree, but manage to get their charges reduced. First degree can be reduced to second degree if the defendant was extremely provoked by the victim or if there were other mitigating circumstances. This crime is a Class B felony, punishable by a prison sentence of up to 60 years.
“Murder charges are very serious. If you are innocent, you will need the expertise of a criminal defense lawyer on your side to ensure that you are not falsely accused.” – (Quote from an Alaska criminal defense attorney)
Criminally Negligent Homicide
This charge is leveled when a person’s thoughtless behavior causes the death of another person. It does not matter if the defendant did not intend to cause harm; the plaintiff only needs to prove that the defendant knew (or should have known) how dangerous their behavior was, but they did it anyway. Two examples of this type of crime are animals that kill someone because they were not properly restrained, and people who kill others through careless driving. This is usually a Class G felony, punishable by a $25,000 fine and/or up to 10 years in prison.
This crime describes unintentional deaths caused by thoughtless behavior. It is divided into two degrees. First degree means that the defendant’s behavior showed a complete disregard for human life. It is a Class B felony. Second degree is basically the same charge, but more mild, suggesting that the defendant’s behavior was more stupid than intentionally callous. This is a Class D felony, punishable by a fine of $100,000 or up to 25 years in jail.
If someone accidentally causes the death of another person through the manufacturing, selling or delivery of illegal drugs, it is a Class C felony, punishable by a $100,000 fine and up to 40 years in prison.