When you are arrested for a crime, one of the things that you might worry about is whether you will serve prison time for a conviction. It is a common concern that many people share when they are arrested. Kentucky has harsh sentencing requirements for many crimes.
Kentucky has guidelines for both misdemeanors and felonies.
The punishment for convictions depends on several factors, such as:
- The type of crime
- The defendant’s criminal history
- Whether the defendant used a weapon during the commission of the crime
- If the offense is a first or subsequent offense
- Whether the individual cooperated with law enforcement officers
- If someone was killed, seriously injured, or abducted during the commission of the crime
- Whether the defendant was coerced or forced into committing the crime or significantly provoked by the victim
- Whether there are aggravating or mitigating factors
A judge considers all relevant factors when deciding how long to sentence a person to prison. In most cases, the sentence falls within the range of minimum and maximum sentences prescribed by Kentucky sentencing guidelines. The judge could sentence a defendant to a term outside of the guidelines if the facts of the case warrant a deviation from the guidelines.
However, mandatory minimum sentences exist for some crimes. Judges generally must follow these guidelines, which may not give them much flexibility to consider mitigating factors in some cases that should lower a sentence for a conviction.
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Sentencing Guidelines for Kentucky Misdemeanors
Kentucky laws divide misdemeanors into two categories for sentencing. Class A and Class B misdemeanors. Class A crimes have longer sentencing requirements than Class B crimes.
The maximum sentence for a Class B misdemeanor is 90 days. The maximum sentence for a Class A misdemeanor is 12 months. The defendant may also be fined up to $250 for a Class B misdemeanor and up to $500 for a Class A misdemeanor.
Sentencing Guideline for Kentucky Felonies
Kentucky law separates felony crimes into five categories. Capital offenses are at the top of the list, followed by Class A, B, C, and D felonies. Capital offenses are the most serious felony crimes and carry the harshest penalties for a conviction.
The sentencing guidelines for felony convictions in Kentucky are:
- Class A Felony – Prison sentence between 20 years to 50 years or life in prison
- Class B Felony – Prison sentence between 10 years to 20 years
- Class C Felonies – Prison sentence between five to ten years
- Class D Felony – Prison sentence between one to five years
Capital Offenses have one of three possible prison terms and the death penalty.
Defendants convicted of a capital offense may receive:
- The death penalty
- Life in prison without being eligible for parole
- 25 years to life in prison
- 20 years to 50 years in prison
A judge may also impose a fine from $1,000 to $10,000 for a felony conviction. In some cases, the fine for a felony conviction could be double the amount of financial gain the defendant received for committing the crime.
Harsher Penalties for Repeat Felony Offenders
Kentucky has a special law for defendants who have prior felony convictions. A “persistent felony offender” can receive longer sentences for the same crime than a first offender.
Crimes That Could Carry Mandatory Minimum Sentences
Many crimes carry mandatory minimum sentences under Kentucky law.
Examples of criminal offenses that could result in mandatory minimum sentencing for a conviction include, but are not limited to:
- Violent crimes, including many sex crimes
- Some alcohol-related crimes, including DUIs
- A drug offense, such as drug trafficking and drug possession
Many other crimes carry the potential for lengthy prison sentences because of mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines.
What Should You Do if You are Charged with a Crime?
You may not be able to do anything about mandatory minimum sentences in Kentucky. However, you can take steps to protect your civil rights and your freedom if you are arrested or investigated for a crime.
Know Your Legal Rights
It is surprising how many people understand that they have the right to remain silent, but they answer questions and talk to the police instead of keeping quiet. The same is true about the right to have counsel before answering questions. Many people do not ask for an attorney as soon as they are arrested.
Talking to the police rarely works in a person’s favor. In many cases, the person gives the police additional information that can be used against them to obtain a conviction. Some people may give the police information that could be used as aggravating circumstances to lengthen a prison sentence for a conviction.
Police officers lie. Do not believe what they tell you. Instead, use your right to remain silent and always ask for a criminal defense attorney immediately.
Do Not Contact Victims
If you are charged with a crime involving a victim, never contact the victim when you are released from jail. You may be tempted to contact the person who accused you of a crime to try to straighten out a misunderstanding. There are at least two problems with your plan.
First, contacting the victim is prohibited by the terms of your bail. You can go back to jail for contacting the victim. Second, anything you say could be used against you. If the person reported a crime, you would not change their mind by talking to them.
Instead, tell your defense lawyer what you would like to say to the victim. Your lawyer may detect something in what you say that could help with your defense.
Stay Out of Trouble
Do not associate with known criminals or visit places where crimes may be committed. Follow all the terms and conditions of your release. You need to focus on work and staying out of trouble while your lawyer focuses on keeping you out of jail.
Work with Your Lawyer on Your Defense
Respond to your lawyer immediately when he requests information or documentation regarding your criminal case. The information your attorney requests could be vital for your defense. Delays in responding to your lawyer could jeopardize your defense.
Call Our Kentucky Criminal Defense Attorney for a Free Consultation
Mandatory minimum sentences for a felony offense could result in lengthy prison terms. Even though Kentucky passed the Public Safety and Offender Accountability Act (HB 463) as part of its criminal justice reforms, the inmate population in Kentucky remains high.
If you are arrested or under investigation for a crime, contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with our Kentucky criminal defense lawyer to discuss defense options.