Alaska Alaska



Competency/ Insanity 


Defendant is considered incompetent if the defendant is unable to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense. Presumption of competency – burden on Defendant to show incompetence. In determining whether a person has sufficient intellectual functioning to adapt or cope with the ordinary demands of life, the court shall consider whether the person has obtained a driver's license, is able to maintain employment, or is competent to testify as a witness under the Alaska Rules of Evidence. In determining if the defendant is unable to understand the proceedings against the defendant, the court shall consider, among other factors considered relevant by the court, whether the defendant understands that the defendant has been charged with a criminal offense and that penalties can be imposed; whether the defendant understands what criminal conduct is being alleged; whether the defendant understands the roles of the judge, jury, prosecutor, and defense counsel; whether the defendant understands that the defendant will be expected to tell defense counsel the circumstances, to the best of the defendant's ability, surrounding the defendant's activities at the time of the alleged criminal conduct; and whether the defendant can distinguish between a guilty and not guilty plea. In determining if the defendant is unable to assist in the defendant's own defense, the court shall consider, among other factors considered relevant by the court, whether the defendant's mental disease or defect affects the defendant's ability to recall and relate facts pertaining to the defendant's actions at times relevant to the charges and whether the defendant can respond coherently to counsel's questions. A defendant is able to assist in the defense even though the defendant's memory may be impaired, the defendant refuses to accept a course of action that counsel or the court believes is in the defendant's best interest, or the defendant is unable to suggest a particular strategy or to choose among alternative defenses.  Alaska Stat. § 12.47.100


Insanity is an affirmative defense (burden on Defendant to show that he was insane [did not know the criminal act was wrong] at the time of the crime, not on state to show that he wasn’t insane at the time). Alaska Stat. § 12.47.010

Procedure for insanity pleas/ guilty but mentally ill/ not guilty by reason of insanity evaluations and commitment. Alaska Stat. § 12.47 – entire chapter. 

Guilty but mentally ill verdict - A defendant is guilty but mentally ill if, when the defendant engaged in the criminal conduct, the defendant lacked, as a result of a mental disease or defect, the substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of that conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of law.  A defendant found guilty but mentally ill is not relieved of criminal responsibility.  Alaska Stat. § 12.47.030

Special Rules



A higher sentence may be given if the defendant knew or should have known that the victim was vulnerable due to age, disability, ill health, etc. (hate crime statute).  Alaska Stat. § 12.55.155

Death Penalty

Alaska does not have the death penalty. 


Special medical parole: Prisoners serving time for certain offenses can petition for special medical parole if reasonable probability exists that: (A) the prisoner will live and remain at liberty without violating any laws or conditions imposed by the board; (B) because of the prisoner's severe medical or cognitive disability, the prisoner will not pose a threat of harm to the public if released on parole; and (C) release of the prisoner on parole would not diminish the seriousness of the crime. The prisoner must show that he was not medically or cognitively disabled at the time that he committed the crime or that the medical or cognitive disability he was suffering from at the time of the offense has progressed so that the likelihood of the prisoner committing the same or a similar offense is low. Must also show that (1) the care and supervision that the prisoner requires can be provided in a more medically appropriate or cost-effective manner than by the department; (2) the prisoner is incapacitated to an extent that incarceration does not impose significant additional restrictions on the prisoner; (3) the prisoner is likely to remain subject to the severe medical or cognitive disability throughout the entire period of parole or to die and there is no reasonable expectation that the prisoner's medical or cognitive disability will improve noticeably; and (4) an appropriate discharge plan has been formulated that addresses basic life domains of the prisoner, including care coordination, housing, eligibility for public benefits, and health care, including necessary medication. DOES NOT apply to people with I/DD who had I/DD at the time of the offense and have not seriously decompensated.  Alaska Stat. § 33.16.085