Like many states, Kentucky uses minimum sentencing guidelines for misdemeanor charges. The sentences for a misdemeanor conviction are not as harsh as for a felony crime. However, the penalties could still disrupt your life and have collateral consequences beyond the criminal punishment. 

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor crime, you would have a permanent criminal record. That record could create problems for you in the future. Therefore, it is recommended that you consult with a criminal defense lawyer before you decide whether to represent yourself on misdemeanor charges.

What Are Considered Misdemeanor Crimes in Kentucky?

Numerous crimes in Kentucky may be charged as misdemeanors. Examples of misdemeanors include:

  • Theft by Unlawful Taking under $500
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license for DUI
  • Growing one to four marijuana plants
  • Sexual misconduct
  • Knowingly giving or selling a gun to a felon
  • Violation of a protective order
  • Promoting prostitution
  • First offense DUI
  • Public intoxication
  • Resisting arrest
  • Criminal trespass in the second degree
  • Prostitution 

Some of the above crimes fall into the category of Class A Misdemeanor crimes or Class B Misdemeanor crimes. The class of misdemeanor dictates the severity of the punishment for a conviction.

Potential Penalties for Misdemeanor Convictions in Kentucky

Under Kentucky law, Class B misdemeanors carry the least severe punishment. Class A misdemeanors have slightly harsher penalties. The jail time for misdemeanors is set by KRS §532.090. The fines for misdemeanors are set by KRS §532.040.

The potential penalties for a Class B misdemeanor are up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $250. The potential penalties for a Class A misdemeanor are up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.

There is also a statute of limitations to prosecute misdemeanor crimes in Kentucky. The state must prosecute a misdemeanor charge within one year from the date that the alleged defendant committed the crime. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.

For example, the deadline for misdemeanor sex crimes against minors gives the state ten years after the victim reaches 18 years of age to prosecute the crime. 

Reasons to Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney for a Misdemeanor Charge

You might qualify for a public defender if you are charged with a misdemeanor in Kentucky. However, public defenders are often overworked and may not have experience handling the type of charge you face. Also, public defenders may not have a great deal of experience trying cases.

You might believe that you can defend yourself in court. However, you are going up against a trained and experienced prosecutor who understands the law and the judicial process. Do you have the skills and knowledge of court rules, statutes, and juries to mount a strong defense in your case?

Before you decide to proceed without hiring a criminal defense lawyer, consider these benefits of having legal counsel for a misdemeanor charge:

Someone Who Fights for Your Best Interests

The police officers and the prosecutor believe you are guilty. The judge and jurors are supposed to be impartial, but that might not be the case. Having an attorney on your side means you have someone who has your best interest as his sole priority. 

Your attorney fights to get the charges against you dismissed. The lawyer analyzes the evidence against you and the circumstances of your arrest. There could be one or more defenses that you could use to win your criminal case. 

A Skilled Negotiator 

If you committed the crime and the state has sufficient evidence to prove your guilt, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate a plea deal. Your attorney will use the facts of the case to argue that you deserve leniency. 

A prosecutor may negotiate a better plea deal knowing that you have an experienced criminal lawyer on your side who will go to trial if that is in your best interest. 

A Guide Through the Judicial Process

The judicial process can be confusing, especially if you have never been arrested before now. Your lawyer explains each step of the process and provides support and guidance. Having an attorney handle your case means that you are less likely to make mistakes that could result in a worse outcome in your case.

A Lawyer Can Work to Have Your Record Expunged

Some individuals may qualify to have their criminal record expunged. Your attorney can guide you through the expungement process and work with you to clear your criminal record. Cleaning up your criminal record helps you avoid some of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.

What is the Next Step?

If you have been arrested for a misdemeanor charge, make sure you understand your legal rights. Proceeding without legal counsel could result in an unnecessary conviction, jail time, and fines.