Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Municipality of Anchorage v. Beezley

Court of Appeals of Alaska

August 17, 2018

MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE, Petitioner,
v.
WAYNE EDWARD BEEZLEY, Respondent.

          Petition for Review from the District Court No. 3AN-16-2755 CR, Third Judicial District, Anchorage, Douglas Kossler, Judge.

          Sarah E. Stanley, Assistant Municipal Prosecutor, and William D. Falsey, Municipal Attorney, Anchorage, for the Petitioner.

          No appearance for the Respondent.

          Renee McFarland, Assistant Public Defender, and Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for amicus curiae Alaska Public Defender Agency.

          Before: Mannheimer, Chief Judge, and Allard and Wollenberg, Judges.

          OPINION

          MANNHEIMER JUDGE.

         The defendant in this case, Wayne Edward Beezley, stands convicted of the Anchorage municipal offense of reckless driving.[1] Under the Anchorage Municipal Code, a person convicted of reckless driving may be imprisoned for up to 1 year.[2] This 1 -year maximum penalty was established at a time when the maximum penalty provided for class A misdemeanors under state law was also 1 year's imprisonment. See the pre-2016 version of AS 12.55.135(a).

         But in 2016, the Alaska legislature modified AS 12.55.135(a) so that not all class A misdemeanor offenders are subject to the 1-year maximum sentence.[3] Under the current version of the statute, the 1-year maximum sentence applies only if one or more of the criteria listed in AS 12.55.135(a)(1) are met.[4] If none of these criteria are met, then the maximum sentence for a class A misdemeanor is 30 days' imprisonment. See AS 12.55.135(a)(2).

         In essence, the legislature created a presumptive sentencing ceiling of 30 days' imprisonment for most class A misdemeanors - a ceiling that cannot be exceeded unless the State proves one of the factors listed in subsection (a)(1) of the statute.

         Even though the municipal offense of reckless driving is not a "class A misdemeanor", the district court ruled that the presumptive 30-day sentencing ceiling codified in AS 12.55.135(a) governs Beezley's sentencing for reckless driving under municipal law. That is, the district court ruled that Beezley's sentence could not exceed 30 days' imprisonment unless the Municipality proved one of the factors set forth in AS 12.55.135(a)(1).

         The Municipality has petitioned us to review and reverse the district court's ruling. When Beezley's court-appointed attorneys, the Denali Law Group, filed no response to the Municipality's petition, we invited the Alaska Public Defender Agency to enter this case as an amicus curiae to argue Beezley's position. And because the district court's rationale apparently applies to State prosecutions for reckless driving under AS 28.35.400, we invited the State of Alaska to file an amicus curiae brief as well - an invitation that the State declined.

         For the reasons explained in this opinion, we agree with the district court that the presumptive 30-day sentencing ceiling established in AS 12.55.135(a) applies to a sentencing for reckless driving under Anchorage municipal law.

         A more detailed examination of the legal background of this case

         As we explained earlier, the legislature has amended AS 12.55.135(a) so that not all defendants convicted of a class A misdemeanor are subject to a 1-year maximum term of imprisonment. There is now a presumptive 30-day ceiling on sentencing for most class A misdemeanors unless the State proves one of the factors listed in subsection (a)(1) of the statute.

         The problem in Beezley's case arises from the fact that AS 12.55.135(a) addresses only the penalties for misdemeanor offenses that are classified as "class A" misdemeanors, and there are many misdemeanors defined under state and municipal law that have no classification.

         All of the misdemeanor offenses defined in our state's criminal code (Title 11 of the statutes) are explicitly designated as either class A or class B misdemeanors, so the application of AS 12.55.135(a) is clear with respect to these crimes: the statute applies to class A misdemeanors, and it does not apply to class B misdemeanors.

         But there are other misdemeanor offenses defined in titles other than Title 11, and (as we are about to explain) many of these misdemeanors are neither class A nor class B. Instead, they are non-classified.

         There is a provision of the criminal code, AS 11.81.250(c), which declares that a misdemeanor defined in a title of the statutes other than Title 11 is deemed a class A misdemeanor if the other title does not specify a penalty for that misdemeanor.

         But AS 11.81.250(c) does not cover the many misdemeanors in other titles of the statutes which are not designated as class A or class B, but which do have a specified penalty. For instance, many misdemeanors defined in Title 28 of our statutes (motor vehicles) are not designated as class A or class B, but these misdemeanors have a specified penalty - because Title 28 contains a general provision, AS 28.90.010, which establishes the penalty for all violations of Title 28 (unless a different penalty is specified in the criminal statute itself). The state offense of reckless driving, AS 28.35.400, falls within this non-classified category: it is not designated as either a class A or class B misdemeanor, but it has a specified penalty.

         See also AS 16.05.430, AS 16.05.665, AS 16.05.723, AS 16.05.783, AS 16.05.831, and AS 16.05.905 - all of which specify penalties for misdemeanor fish and game offenses, without designating them as either class A or class B. These offenses, too, are all non-classified misdemeanors.

         Similarly, Title 09 of the Anchorage Municipal Code contains numerous offenses which carry penalties of up to 1 year's imprisonment, but which are not designated as either class A or class B ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.