What is a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?

A misdemeanor is generally regarded as any criminal charge that is punishable by up to one year in jail. In this day and age of widespread electronic information, even a misdemeanor charge can impact a person’s future. Background checks are being done more and more frequently, not just by employers but by colleges, universities, apartment complexes, residential properties, and more. Therefore, even if you are facing “just” a misdemeanor charge, it is important to discuss your case with an attorney who can help guide you and advise you as to any possible defenses or ways to minimize the impact of these charges on your life.

Penalties and Fines for Misdemeanors

The Kentucky legislature has outlined categories of misdemeanors and the potential punishment for each of those levels, or classes of offenses.

Specifically, Kentucky Revised Statutes (KSR) Section 532.090 lays out the potential or maximum sentences of imprisonment for a misdemeanor charge.

·     Class A misdemeanor, jail time no more than twelve (12) months; and

·     Class B misdemeanor, jail time no more than ninety (90) days.

In addition to jail time, misdemeanor charges carry certain fines depending on the level, or class, of the misdemeanor charge. Kentucky Revised Statutes, Section 534.040 lays out the specific fines for misdemeanors. Specifically, a Class A misdemeanor conviction carries a max fine of five hundred dollars ($500), and a Class B misdemeanor carries a max fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250). There is an exception to the Court imposing these fines, particularly if the person is deemed indigent pursuant to KRS Chapter 31.

Expungement for Misdemeanors

Kentucky law in KSR Section 431.078 outlines the process and ability to potentially expunge certain misdemeanors, violations, and traffic infraction records. Upon petition to the court, a person can ask a judge to expunge the record of a misdemeanor that was dismissed. 

Statute of Limitations – Time Period for Bringing Charges

There is a time limitation for the bringing of misdemeanor charges in Kentucky. The time limit is outlined in KRS 500.050. The prosecution of a misdemeanor offense must be commenced no more than one (1) year from the date the alleged crime was committed. There are some exceptions when a sex offense is involved or other listed crimes in KRS 500.050.

Misdemeanor Case Process

The case usually begins when the accused is charged or arrested – though, with misdemeanors, there is a greater likelihood (than with a felony) that a person could be charged with a citation or summons to appear for court instead. Other times, the person may be arrested at the scene of an offense, or at any time after the crime was allegedly committed – so long as it is within the period of limitations described above.

Having a skilled defense attorney on your side is critical in navigating the remaining process, whether or not the case makes it to trial. For example, the evidence against you in a misdemeanor drug charge may have been obtained illegally due to an unlawful search. If that is the case, your attorney could file a motion to suppress that unlawfully obtained evidence which could result in the case being dismissed.

Reach Out to an Attorney for Assistance

If you are facing jail time, an attorney can skillfully craft sentencing arguments to help get the best possible result for your particular case. You should speak to an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible to explore all options that are available to you.