Procedure of reducing felony charges to misdemeanors while the state seeks an indictment can be confusing the for accused, the victims, and as we saw this week, the public.
From Bristol Bay and Beyond, Feb. 5: This week there was some confusion about the felony drug charges against Joshua Rivera, an out-of-towner who was caught selling heroin out of a Nerka Loop residence a few weeks ago by Dillingham Police. His case is still open, and the prosecutor tells us she intends to take it to the grand jury for an indictment. That doesn’t mean all drug charges stick; we also learned this week that a case alleging Nicholas Tinker of Aleknagik sold a dose of heroin to a DPD informant was dismissed. (We’ll have more on that case an others next week in our local news.) But back to Rivera, a case which has caused much angst on social media: the charge against him was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. The reason that happens, routinely, is sometimes criminal cases from Bush Alaska can’t be brought to a grand jury for indictment inside of the state mandated ten days. The misdemeanor charge serves as something of a place holder to buy the state a little more time. The process is called Kameroff notice, named for a 2007 case out of the Bethel court. My next guest is Christopher Lesch, an attorney with the Public Defender’s Agency based in Dillingham, who is speaking as a criminal defense attorney and not on behalf of the agency.