Best Alaska Criminal Lawyers

Best Alaska Criminal Lawyers

If you are facing criminal charges in Alaska, having an experienced defense attorney can be critical for achieving the best possible outcome for your case. An adept Alaska criminal lawyer understands the complexities of Alaska’s criminal statutes, case law precedents, and court procedures that apply to felony and misdemeanor prosecutions in the state. Here is an overview of top criminal lawyers in Alaska and key facets of Alaska criminal law.

Why You Need an Experienced Alaska Criminal Attorney

Facing criminal prosecution in Alaska without legal representation puts you at considerable disadvantage. Reasons to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer include:

  • Knowledge of Alaska criminal law – The statutes, regulations, and case law governing Alaska prosecutions are complex and nuanced.
  • Guidance through the process – Your lawyer guides you through investigation, charging, bail, hearings, trial, plea bargaining, sentencing, and appeals.
  • Development of defense strategies – Your lawyer identifies and develops the most viable strategies to challenge the prosecution’s evidence and get charges dismissed or reduced.
  • Plea negotiation – Your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution for reduction or dismissal of charges or sentencing leniency.
  • Trial experience – If a satisfactory plea deal cannot be reached, your lawyer has the courtroom advocacy skills and litigation experience to mount an aggressive defense before a jury.
  • Protection of rights – Your lawyer ensures proper procedures are followed and your constitutional rights protected.
  • Reduce penalties – Even if convicted, your lawyer can advocate for minimized sentencing based on mitigating factors.

Retaining skilled legal counsel maximizes the chance of the best possible resolution to your Alaska criminal case.

Top Criminal Lawyers in Alaska

With a population around 730,000, Alaska’s legal community is smaller than in many states. However, Alaska has many capable criminal defense lawyers. When choosing legal counsel, factors to consider include experience with your types of charges, trial record, reputation with prosecutors and judges, and peer reviews. Here are several top-rated Alaska criminal attorneys:

Rex Lamont Butler

Based in Anchorage, Rex Lamont Butler has over 20 years of criminal defense experience in state and federal courts. His practice focuses on complex felony cases including homicide, sexual assault, weapons charges, fraud, and drug trafficking. Butler has obtained many acquittals and dismissals for clients over his career.

Warren A. Jones

Warren A. Jones is a highly skilled criminal and DUI defense lawyer based in Fairbanks. He is a past president of the Alaska Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Jones has extensive trial experience and a track record of success in getting charges reduced or dismissed pre-trial. He aggressively defends clients against all types of misdemeanor and felony allegations.

Christine Schleuss

Christine Schleuss operates a firm in Anchorage focusing on criminal defense and civil rights litigation. She defends clients against serious state and federal charges ranging from drug trafficking and fraud to sex offenses and violent crimes. Schleuss is known for her meticulous pre-trial preparation, motion practice, and trial skills.

Barry J. Kell

Barry J. Kell is an experienced criminal defense lawyer based in Anchorage who handles cases across Alaska. His practice covers all types of felonies and misdemeanors from theft to manslaughter and drug crimes. Kell is praised for his communication skills, responsiveness to clients, and successful outcomes.

Anthony G. Morales

Located in Fairbanks, attorney Anthony G. Morales handles misdemeanor and felony cases in state and federal court. He is experienced defending against fraud, larceny, assault, sex offenses, murder, and weapons charges among other crimes. Morales has obtained many successful case results through motions, trials, and appeals.

Overview of Alaska Criminal Law

Gaining an overview of key aspects of Alaska criminal law and procedure will help you understand the court process and potential defenses. Major areas to know include:

Alaska Criminal Statutes

The foundation of Alaska’s criminal law is found in Title 11 of the Alaska Statutes, known as the Alaska Criminal Code. This contains statutes defining offenses, classification of crimes, sentencing provisions, and criminal procedures. Common categories of crimes include:

  • Offenses against the person – Murder, manslaughter, assault, sex crimes, kidnapping, harassment, stalking
  • Offenses against property – Theft, robbery, extortion, burglary, trespass, vandalism, arson
  • Offenses against public order – Rioting, misconduct involving weapons, terrorism
  • Offenses against public administration – Bribery, perjury, evidence tampering, obstructing justice
  • Offenses against public health and decency – Prostitution, indecent exposure, distribution of child pornography
  • Controlled substance offenses – Possession, distribution, trafficking, manufacturing

The Alaska Statutes classify offenses as felonies, misdemeanors, or violations based on severity. There are 4 classes of felonies and 3 of misdemeanors in Alaska.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Charges

Felony charges are more serious crimes punishable by over 1 year in prison. Misdemeanors are lesser offenses with jail terms of 1 year or less. While misdemeanors may seem minor, convictions can still carry life-altering consequences. Some key differences:

Felonies Misdemeanors
Over 1 year in prison Up to 1 year in jail
Higher fines Smaller fines
More complex cases Typically straightforward cases
Tried in Superior Court Tried in District Court
Felony record No felony record

Never assume that just because a charge is a misdemeanor, serious consequences cannot result. An experienced lawyer is essential.

Stages of a Criminal Case in Alaska

Understanding how a criminal case progresses in Alaska will help you know what to expect at each phase. Typical stages include:

  1. Arrest – Police arrest suspect based on probable cause a crime was committed.
  2. Booking & processing – Suspect is fingerprinted, photographed, and booked into jail.
  3. Charging decision – Prosecutor reviews investigation and files formal charges.
  4. Initial court hearing – Suspect is advised of charges and bail may be set.
  5. Preliminary hearing – A judge determines if enough evidence warrants going to trial.
  6. Plea negotiations – A plea bargain may be negotiated to resolve the case.
  7. Pre-trial motions – Defense can file motions to suppress evidence, dismiss charges, etc.
  8. Trial – Prosecution must prove guilt beyond reasonable doubt to gain a conviction.
  9. Sentencing – If convicted, the judge imposes punishment within statutory guidelines.
  10. Appeals – Grounds may exist to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Experienced criminal counsel is vital to defending your rights through every stage.

Common Criminal Defenses in Alaska

Alaska criminal lawyers use a wide array of defenses to get charges against their clients dismissed or reduced. Some potential defenses include:

  • Wrongful arrest – Police lacked probable cause to make arrest.
  • Unlawful search & seizure – Evidence was obtained in violation of the 4th Amendment.
  • Miranda violations – Incriminating statements were obtained without required warnings.
  • Misidentification – Mistaken identity by witnesses/victims.
  • Self-defense – Use of force was legally justified against threat.
  • Consent – Alleged victim consented to the conduct.
  • Entrapment – Improperly induced by police into committing crime.
  • Intoxication – Lacked criminal intent due to involuntary impairment.
  • Mental state – Could not form required intent due to mental defect.

An experienced Alaska criminal lawyer thoroughly investigates the facts to identify and argue the best defenses to get charges dismissed or reduced.


Facing criminal charges in Alaska can have devastating consequences that last for years. By retaining one of the experienced Alaska criminal defense lawyers profiled here or another talented local attorney, you maximize the chances of the most favorable outcome possible. With an accomplished legal advocate negotiating, filing motions, and aggressively defending you before a jury if needed, you have the best chance to defeat the charges or mitigate penalties. Don’t leave your fate to chance – put an experienced Alaska criminal lawyer on your side.