What is a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?

Misdemeanor charges in Kentucky are criminal offenses punishable by up to one year in county jail. A wide range of crimes fall into the category of a misdemeanor. 

It is important to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Continue reading to learn more about misdemeanors in Kentucky.

What Types of Crimes Are Considered Misdemeanors in Kentucky?

There are two classes of misdemeanors in Kentucky. 

Class A misdemeanors include, but are not limited to:

  • A second offense of driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license within five years
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Cultivation of less than five marijuana plants
  • Third-degree forgery
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Theft by unlawful taking under $500
  • Promoting prostitution 
  • Knowingly transferring or selling a firearm to a felon

Class B misdemeanors are considered lesser crimes. Crimes classified as Class B misdemeanors include, but are not limited to:

  • First offense DUI 
  • Prostitution
  • Resisting arrest
  • First-offense driving without a driver’s license
  • Public intoxication
  • Second-degree criminal trespass
  • Harassing communications

A misdemeanor can become a felony depending on the circumstances of the case and whether there are aggravating factors present. These offenses are called “wobbler” offenses. 

Common misdemeanor charges that can become felony charges include:

  • Driving under the influence 
  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Theft

Your criminal history can also impact whether a criminal charge is classified as a misdemeanor or a felony. Aggravating circumstances, such as committing a crime with a dangerous weapon, the type of drug involved in a criminal act, or the victim’s age, can increase the charge to a felony. 

Is There a Deadline for Charging Someone With a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?

Is There a Deadline for Charging Someone With a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?

Most misdemeanor crimes must be charged within one year after the person committed the offense.

Otherwise, the statute of limitations for criminal offenses might bar the police officers from arresting the person for a misdemeanor crime. However, there are exceptions to the general rule. 

How Are Misdemeanors Punished in Louisville?

The amount of time you could spend in jail for a misdemeanor conviction depends on the class of misdemeanor. 

  • A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail
  • A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail

In addition to jail time, the judge may impose a fine for a misdemeanor offense. Class B misdemeanors or violations carry fines of up to $250. Class A misdemeanors carry fines up to $500. Some exceptions exist for imposing fines, including if the defendant is deemed indigent according to Kentucky law.

What Are the Defenses to Misdemeanor Charges in Louisville?

A misdemeanor charge can remain on your criminal record indefinitely. The collateral consequences could be costly. However, with legal representation, you can fight misdemeanor charges. 

The defenses your attorney uses depend on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. 

Some defenses your criminal lawyer might use include, but are not limited to:

  • Lack of evidence to prove each legal element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Violation of your Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures
  • The police used illegal entrapment procedures to make the arrest
  • Lack of intent to commit a crime
  • Mistaken identity
  • False allegations
  • Lack of probable cause for an arrest
  • Consent of the alleged victim 
  • Lack of knowledge or control in weapons and drug crimes

Your criminal defense attorney will conduct an independent investigation to gather evidence that the prosecution might not have discovered. The defense is based on the evidence.

For example, if the evidence indicates an illegal search and seizure, your attorney might file a motion to suppress evidence. If the judge grants the motion, any evidence gathered as a result of the unlawful search could be inadmissible in court.

Should I Plead Guilty to a Misdemeanor Charge?

The decision to plead guilty should be made with the assistance and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. It might be best to fight the charges than accept a plea agreement. However, a plea deal might be the best way to resolve criminal charges when the evidence is overwhelming. 

Negotiating the terms of a plea bargain without a lawyer may not be in your best interest. The prosecutor wants a conviction. Therefore, the prosecutor will not tell you whether the evidence supports a guilty verdict or if there are affirmative defenses and mitigating circumstances that could be used to reduce the charges and sentence.

An experienced defense lawyer uses the evidence to argue for reduced charges and a lighter sentence. After the plea agreement, you can discuss the steps to have a misdemeanor expunged from your criminal record. Many misdemeanor offenses are eligible for expungement in Kentucky. 

Schedule a Free Consultation with a Louisville Criminal Defense Lawyer if You’ve Been Charged with a Misdemeanor

Whether you face misdemeanor or felony charges, you should talk to an experienced Louisville criminal defense attorney before talking to the police or accepting a plea agreement. A misdemeanor or felony conviction can substantially impact your life. A lawyer will help you fight criminal charges to avoid a criminal record, jail time, and other punishments.