December 12, 2020 | Criminal Defense
Generally speaking, criminal charges are broken down into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and are often punishable by fines rather than significant time in jail. Shoplifting, trespassing, and the violation of a restraining order are all examples of misdemeanors.
Felonies, on the other hand, are far more serious in nature. If convicted of a felony, you could face significant fines and lengthy prison sentences. However, not every felony is the same.
In Kentucky, felonies are broken down into five classes depending on the seriousness of the crime.
Class D Felonies
Class D felonies are the lowest class of felony in Kentucky, though they are still very serious.
Some of the crimes that are Class D felonies include:
- Possession of an illegal substance
It is also possible to be convicted of a Class D felony if a person repeatedly commits serious misdemeanors. For Class D felonies, the maximum amount of jail time a person can face is 1 to 5 years.
The good news is, if convicted, depending on the crime, there are a number of Class D felonies that are eligible for expungement in Kentucky. This means you can get the conviction erased from your record which can be helpful when applying for jobs and housing.
Class C Felonies
Class C felonies are one step up from Class D felonies and are more serious in nature. They carry a prison sentence of between 5-10 years if convicted.
Some examples of Class C felonies include:
- Second degrees manslaughter
- If a felon possesses a handgun
- Trafficking in a controlled substance
- Some white collar crimes, including forgery and bribery
Crimes in this class include both those that are more violent than misdemeanors and Class D felonies and those that involve corruption.
Class B Felonies
Class B felonies are more serious still and can carry some significant jail time. If convicted of a Class B felony, you could spend anywhere from 10-20 years behind bars. Examples of Class B felonies include:
As you can see, these types of crimes are very serious and in most cases violent. Because of the life-altering length of jail time Class B felony convicts serve, this class of felony is not charged lightly.
Class A Felonies
Those crimes that are considered to be the most heinous are classified as Class A Felonies.This includes the rape of a child under the age of 12. If convicted of a Class A felony, a person could face a prison sentence of 20-50 years in length.
While Class A is the highest of the above classes, there is actually one more category of crime in Kentucky.
In some cases, murder can be classified as a capital offense and if convicted, an individual could face:
- Life in prison without the possibility of parole
- 20-50 years in prison
- The death penalty
While the death penalty is legal in Kentucky (it was reinstituted in 1976) it is extremely rare, with only three inmates having been put to death since that time. Currently, around 30 individuals are on death row in the state.
What To Do If Charged With a Felony
If you have been charged with a felony, the first thing you should do is hire a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent you in your proceedings and trial. From start to finish, criminal cases have many steps and there is much room for negotiation.
A good lawyer might:
- Work to get charges dropped
- Seek a favorable plea deal
- Represent you in trial and obtain a not guilty verdict
- Help you get your record expunged if you have been convicted of a crime
Just because you have been charged with a felony does not mean you are guilty. You have the right to seek skilled representation and work with a lawyer who can get a positive outcome for your case.