Criminal offenses in Kentucky are classified as felonies or misdemeanors. Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor crimes. Therefore, the punishment for a felony is usually harsher.
A felony or misdemeanor may be punished with jail time. However, misdemeanors are punishable by no more than one year in county jail. On the other hand, a conviction for a felony charge can be punished by a jail sentence of more than one year in state or federal prison. Continue reading to learn more about felony charges in Kentucky.
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What Are the Classes of Felonies in Kentucky?
The Kentucky Penal Code separates felony charges into four categories.
Felony charges are categorized as:
- Class A Felony includes murder and rape of a child under the age of 12
- Class B Felony includes sex-based crimes, rape, first-degree assault, and first-degree manslaughter
- Class C Felony includes second-degree assault, trafficking of a controlled substance, forgery, bribery, and manslaughter in the second degree
- Class D Felony includes possession of a controlled substance, burglary, and stalking in the first degree
Class A felonies are the most severe of the felony classes. However, some offenses are more heinous than Class A felonies. Those crimes are classified as capital offenses. A capital offense may be punished by the death penalty and a jail sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
How Are Felony Charges Punished in Kentucky?
Kentucky Revised Statute §532.060 sets maximum jail or prison sentences for felony convictions. The statutes set minimum and maximum terms of imprisonment.
Unless otherwise provided by law, the prison sentences for a felony conviction are:
- Class A Felony – 20 to 50 years
- Class B Felony – 10 to 20 years
- Class C Felony – 5 to 10 years
- Class D Felony – 1 to 5 years
As stated above, a capital offense may be punished by life without parole or the death penalty. In addition to prison, the judge may impose a fine and other punishment for a felony conviction.
The fines for a felony conviction are between $1,000 and $10,000. If the total “gain” from committing a crime is more than $10,000, the fine imposed may be twice the “gain” from committing the crime.
What is the Process of a Felony Charge in Louisville?
The police officers may arrest a person for a felony at the crime scene. You can also be arrested after committing the felony. There is not a statute of limitations for felony crimes in Kentucky.
The first appearance in court is the arraignment. The court reads the charges against you and allows you to enter a plea. The judge also reviews the bond if you are still in jail.
Judges have several options related to bail. First, the judge could order you to be released without bail. If not, you could be required to sign a bond or provide a cash or property bond.
The court schedules your next appearance if you plead not guilty. In felony cases, it is a preliminary hearing. The prosecution submits evidence to support probable cause that you committed the crime.
Once the grand jury issues an indictment, the case is sent to the Circuit Court. At that time, the court schedules another arraignment. After that, the case proceeds through pre-trial conferences and motion hearings before the case goes to trial.
If the jury finds you guilty at trial, your attorney may file a motion to reconsider the judgment or a notice of appeal. If you do not appeal your conviction, you may want to pursue an expungement.
What Should I Do if I Am Charged with a Felony Crime in Louisville?
Because a felony is a crime punishable by years in prison, it is crucial to seek legal advice as soon as possible. It does not matter whether you are charged with grand theft or stalking; you need sound legal advice.
There could be one or more defenses to felony charges, including:
- Lack of probable cause
- Self-defense and/or imminent fear of being harmed
- Lack of intent to commit a crime
- Confirmed alibi
- Mistaken identity
- Violation of constitutional rights, including protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, double jeopardy, and self-incrimination
- You were under duress or coercion to commit the crime
- Lack of evidence to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
Trying to talk your way out of an arrest often makes the matter worse. The police and the prosecutor believe you committed the crime. What you say could make it more difficult to defend yourself against the charges. Instead of talking to the police or the prosecutor, speak to a Louisville criminal law attorney.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Louisville Criminal Defense Lawyer
A felony conviction can impact multiple aspects of your life. It can have severe consequences for your future. Before you plead guilty to a criminal charge, you should contact an experienced Louisville criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case.