Memorandum decisions of this court do not create legal precedent. See Alaska
Appellate Rule 214(d) and Paragraph 7 of the Guidelines for Publication of Court
of Appeals Decisions (Court of Appeals Order No. 3). Accordingly, this
memorandum decision may not be cited as binding precedent for any proposition of
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA
MICHAEL CHANDLER, )
) Court of Appeals No. A-10725
Appellant, ) Trial Court No. 3AN-09-1162 CR
) MEMORANDUM OPINION
STATE OF ALASKA, )
) AND JUDGMENT
) No. 5797 — February 1, 2012
Appeal from the Superior Court, Third Judicial District,
Anchorage, Jack Smith, Judge.
Appearances: Jane B. Martinez, Contract Public Defender, and
Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant.
Gary L. Poorman, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special
Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and John J. Burns,
Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee.
Before: Coats, Chief Judge, and Mannheimer and Bolger,
Michael Chandler dated Norma James for several months beginning in
April 1994. James became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter in January 1995.
Chandler resided with James following their daughter’s birth until she obtained a
restraining order against him approximately two weeks later.
James filed an application for support with the Child Support Services
Division (CSSD) in June 1995, naming Chandler as the parent of her daughter. CSSD
filed a complaint to establish paternity in superior court, and the complaint and summons
were personally served on Chandler in August 1995. When Chandler did not respond to
the summons, the court entered a default judgment determining that he was the father of
In June 1996, CSSD sent a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility
to Chandler, again by personal delivery. The notice stated that Chandler owed $5,621 in
back child support and that he had an ongoing obligation of $511 per month. The notice
stated that Chandler could request a hearing to contest his obligation by making a written
request within thirty days. The notice also warned that Chandler’s financial responsibility
would become “legal and binding” upon him unless he made a written objection.
CSSD made various efforts to collect child support from Chandler, but he
did not respond to their notices. After CSSD garnished Chandler’s permanent fund
dividend in 1997, he stopped applying for the dividend. He also stopped applying for
unemployment benefits (despite his eligibility) after CSSD garnished a portion of an
unemployment check in 1999. By May 2009, Chandler’s child support obligation was
In December 2009, Chandler was convicted of criminal non-support based
on the evidence set forth above. He now appeals, contending that the evidence was
insufficient to support his conviction.
A person commits the crime of criminal nonsupport if the person knowingly
fails to provide support for a child after being legally charged with the child’s support.1
The State must prove five elements to establish this crime:
(1) That the accused was legally charged with the support of
a child under eighteen years of age;
(2) That the accused failed to provide for the support of the
(3) That the accused’s failure to provide support was
(4) That the accused’s failure to provide support was without
lawful excuse — in other words, that the accused either
actually had the financial ability to provide support or that he
could have had such actual ability through the exercise of
reasonable efforts; and
(5) That the accused was actually aware of his financial
ability to provide support or that he acted recklessly in his
disregard of it.2
Since Chandler was charged with a felony, the State was also required to prove that he
had monetary support arrearages of $20,000 or more or that no child support payment
had been made for a period of twenty-four months.3
Chandler now argues that there was insufficient proof that his failure to
provide support was knowing. He contends that the evidence established that he did not
understand that he had a legal obligation to provide support. To decide this claim, we
Taylor v. State, 710 P.2d 1019, 1022 (Alaska App. 1985).
must determine whether a fair-minded juror could find that Chandler was guilty beyond
a reasonable doubt.4
Chandler’s argument depends on our viewing the evidence in the light most
favorable to him. But when we review the sufficiency of the evidence, we must consider
the evidence in the light most favorable to the jury’s verdict.5 Viewed in this light, there
was sufficient evidence establishing that Chandler was aware of his legal obligation to
support his daughter.
In particular, the language of the Notice and Finding of Financial
Responsibility clearly stated that Chandler owed $5,621 in back child support and that
he had an ongoing obligation of $511 per month. The notice also stated that Chandler’s
financial responsibility would become “legal and binding” upon him, unless he made a
written objection. Based on the language of this notice, a reasonable juror could conclude
that Chandler knew he had a legal obligation to provide support for his child.
The parties dispute whether the State had the burden to prove that Chandler
understood that he had a legal obligation to provide child support. Chandler argues that
this knowledge is a required element of the offense. The State argues that Chandler is
asserting a “mistake of law” defense that is excluded by statute.6
We agree with the State’s position. The prosecution was not required to
show that Chandler agreed that the paternity judgment was correct.7 But the prosecution
See Silvera v. State, 244 P.3d 1138, 1142 (Alaska App. 2010).
See AS 11.81.620(a).
See State v. Strane, 61 P.3d 1284, 1292 (Alaska 2003) (holding that the statute
forbidding violation of a restraining order requires proof that the defendant knew of the
order’s existence but not that the defendant knew his actions were illegal).
did present considerable evidence suggesting that Chandler knew that he had a legal
obligation to provide support. This evidence was sufficient to support the verdict.
We AFFIRM the superior court’s judgment.