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    Alaska Criminal Law, the 2022 Edition has been adopted for use as a textbook in an undergraduate course on substantive criminal law with an emphasis on Alaska law. Although numerous textbooks discuss criminal law, all discuss the subject from a national perspective. But as you will see shortly, criminal law differs greatly from state to state. The enforcement of criminal law is one of the central aspects of a state’s “traditional police powers.” Although the U.S. Constitution provides an umbrella of protection to all United States citizens, there is no federal police power; the enactment and enforcement of criminal law is left to the individual states – a basic principle of US federalism. Because of this unique, local perspective, it is difficult to use a single textbook that adequately explores both general principles and local nuances. This textbook makes no attempt to achieve that goal. Instead, this textbook seeks to introduce you to the topic of criminal law through the lens of the Alaska criminal legal system. This text will explore various concepts and principles that apply in most jurisdictions, but also introduce the reader to the unique aspects of Alaska criminal law, and how these general principles are applied in Alaska.

    This textbook explores the basic elements of a crime, the specific elements of commonly encountered crimes, and most criminal defenses. One must remember that the enforcement of criminal law always requires the involvement of the government. Without government action, there is no criminal enforcement (but as we will see, there may be civil enforcement). Throughout this book, you will review the pertinent sections of the United States and Alaska constitutions as they apply to criminal law. By the end of this book, you will be comfortable with the basic legal framework that governs the Alaskan criminal legal system.

    A quick note on the citation format found in this edition. The original text, Criminal Law, published by the University of Minnesota used the American Psychological Association (APA) citation format. In this edition, the author has attempted to eliminate the APA citation formatting and instead adopted the legal citation style format found in The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation (Columbia L. Rev. Ass’n et al. eds. 21st ed. 2020). This change is for two main reasons. First, this textbook explores the underpinnings of criminal law relying on “The Case Method” (discussed in more detail in Chapter 1) and requires students to learn the nuances of criminal law by reading legal opinions, several of which have been incorporated herein. Legal opinions are more appropriately cited using formal legal citation methods. The APA citation format does not adequately achieve this purpose. The second reason is frankly one of preference. The author was trained in The Bluebook citation format and The Bluebook is on the author’s bookshelf. The APA citation format, while appropriate for social science scholarly work, is not required for our purposes – that is, to enable the reader (you) to locate the cited original work. For those who are not familiar with The Bluebook’s style guide, a quick tutorial can be found at

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