Kentucky Court Records
Felonies, Misdemeanors, and Violations in Kentucky
The justice system of the Commonwealth of Kentucky classifies offenses into three categories. They are felonies, misdemeanors, and violations. The category of an offense and the applicable punishment depends on its severity. The Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS.532.020) provides clear guidelines on the designation of offenses and the applicable penalties. Summarily, Kentucky state crimes are tried on the basis of the aforementioned classification.
What is a felony in Kentucky?
Felonies are the most serious class of offenses. They are punishable by prison sentences of at least one year in state prison. In Kentucky, there are four classes of felonies, with Class A felonies being the most serious offenses and Class D being the least serious.
- Class A felony: offenses designated as Class A felonies are the most serious crimes. They are punishable by a prison sentence of between 20 to 50 years or imprisonment for life. First-degree arson is a Class A felony in Kentucky (KRS.513.020).
- Class B felony: these are offenses punishable by 10 to 20 years in a Kentucky state prison. First-degree burglary (KRS.511.020) is a Class B felony.
- Class C felony: this class of offenses is punishable by at least five years but no more than 10 years in state prison. Theft by deception of $10,000 or more (KRS.514.040) is a Class C felony in Kentucky.
- Class D felony: offenses punishable by at least one year and no more than five years in state prison as designated as Class D felonies. In Kentucky, identity theft (KRS.514.160) is a Class D felony.
For the purpose of sentencing, Kentucky has one other felony classification (KRS.532.10).. Capital offenses are one class above Class A felonies and attract more severe punishments. Murder is a capital offense in Kentucky.
Some offenses appear under more than one class of felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. For example, kidnapping is a Class B felony if the victim is released, alive, and safe at the time of trial. If the kidnap suffers injuries as a result of the kidnapping, it is a Class A felony. However, if the victim is not released alive or dies as a result of injuries sustained during the kidnapping, it is a capital offense (KRS.509.040)
Apart from prison sentences, persons convicted of felony crimes may also be required to pay fines of between $1,000 and $10,000 (KRS.534.030).. Alternatively, offenders may be required to pay double their gain from the commission of the crime. Other than prison sentences and fines, other consequences may result from felony crimes, such as a loss of the right to hold public office, to vote, to buy and own firearms, and to serve on a grand jury. Persons who have been convicted of felony crimes may also be ineligible for college admissions, housing programs, federal loans, and jobs that require licenses.
What are some examples of felonies in Kentucky?
Examples of felony crimes in Kentucky are:
- Criminal trespass
- Armed robbery
- Cultivating five or more marijuana plants
Can I get a Felony Removed from a Court Record in Kentucky?
Expungement is the legal, complete removal of a conviction, charge, or arrest from a person’s criminal history record. In Kentucky, Felony crimes in Classes A, B, and C are not eligible for expungement. Class D felonies, with very few exemptions, are eligible for expungement.
Some of the felonies eligible for expungement are:
- Possession of stolen property
- Tampering with physical evidence
- Identity theft
- Prescription forgery
- Mail theft
When a felony conviction is expunged, the judgment is vacated and the charges against the offender dismissed. Records of the conviction or charge will be removed from all court and state agency systems and databases so that when official background checks are performed, the record will not be found. Persons whose records have been expunged do not have to disclose the charge, conviction, or any other matter relating to the expungement. This applies to instances of employment, housing, credit, and other types of applications. After the felony record has been expunged, voting rights will be restored if the person is not otherwise forbidden from voting.
However, the administrative office of the courts will retain some information about the expungement. The prosecutor in the case may also retain a record of the expungement. These records are non-public and are only used for administrative and law enforcement purposes.
KRS.431.073 lays out the requirements and procedure for expunging records of felony charges or convictions in Kentucky. A person may be eligible to have their felony records expunged if:
- The offense is eligible for expungement
- The person has completed the expungement certification process
- Five years have passed since the court sentence was successfully completed, including other legal requirements such as fines, probation, or parole.
- There are no other criminal charges against them
- Filing and expungement fees have been paid
There are other conditions for eligibility.
- If a convicted person is granted a full pardon by the governor, they may file an expungement motion
- If a person was charged with a felony crime but not indicted by a grand jury, they may apply for expungement 12 months after the court decision
- If the felony charges against a person are dismissed, they may apply to have the records expunged after 60 days
Is expungement the same as sealing court records in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, expungement and sealing are not the same. Sealed records are protected from public view. Although persons with sealed records may choose not to disclose the conviction, the process is not as complete as expungement. This is because sealed records are still available to the courts. Expungement is the complete removal of a record; it will no longer be listed in government and court databases. Expungement offers a clean slate to persons convicted of or charged with crimes. After expungement is granted, such persons are free to rejoin society and have their civil rights restored.
How Long Does a Felony Stay on Your Record in Kentucky?
If a person is charged with or convicted of a felony, it will stay on their criminal history record, except they apply for expungement or the records are sealed. This can severely limit the opportunities and rights available to the person. They may not be eligible to apply to schools or get desired jobs. This is because if the conviction record is not expunged, it can be accessed publicly and will show up in every background or criminal history check.
What is a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, misdemeanors are offenses punishable by a maximum of 12 months in county jail (KRS.532.020).. When compared to felonies, the degree of damage or injury done to people, property, or the public good is less. Kentucky misdemeanors are designated as either Class A or Class B.
- Class A misdemeanors: these are offenses punishable by a maximum of 12 months and a minimum of 90 days in county jail. Offenders may be required to pay fines of up to $500 in place of or in addition to jail time. Possession of burglar’s tools is a Class A misdemeanor (KRS.511.050).
- Class B misdemeanors: offenses punishable by a maximum of 90 days in county jail are designated as Class B misdemeanors. The jail sentence may be accompanied by fines of up to $250. Prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor in Kentucky (KRS.529.020)
Additionally, misdemeanors may be punishable by forfeiture or community service. They can also be escalated into felony crimes. For example, Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or other intoxicants (DUI) is a misdemeanor. However, if a person is charged with a fourth DUI offense in a 10-year period, such a person will be guilty of a Class D felony (KRS.189A.010)..
What are some examples of Misdemeanors in Kentucky?
The following are examples of misdemeanors in Kentucky
Class A Misdemeanor:
- Domestic violence shelter trespass
- First-degree criminal trespass
- Third-degree forgery
- Selling a firearm to a felon
- Wanton endangerment in the second degree
Class B Misdemeanor:
- Trespass in the second degree
- Resisting arrest
- Public intoxication
Can I Get a Misdemeanor Removed from a Record in Kentucky?
Persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes in Kentucky can apply to have the records expunged. Although misdemeanors are considered less severe than felonies, they can have lifelong effects on a person’s criminal history record. Having the record expunged removes it completely from public access and all government agency systems. This means that the charge or conviction will no longer show up on the individual’s criminal history record and will be deemed to have never happened.
Most misdemeanors are eligible for expungement in Kentucky. However, there are a few exemptions. The following charges or convictions will not be expunged:
- Sex offenses
- Offenses committed against children
To be eligible to apply for expungement,
- Five years must have passed since the completion of the sentence for the misdemeanor conviction
- There must be no other pending charges or convictions against the applicant
- In the five years prior to application for expungement, the applicant must not have had any other felony or misdemeanor convictions
Can a DUI Be Expunged in Kentucky?
Records of DUI (Driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated) offenses can be expunged in Kentucky. However, to be eligible for expungement, 10 years must have passed since the charge without any other DUI charges or convictions. Fourth offense DUIs, which is a fourth DUI offense in a 10-year period, are designated Class D felonies. They are not eligible to be expunged. They are punishable with jail time of no less than 120 days without probation or release. If there are aggravating circumstances, imprisonment for a DUI felony will be no less than 240 days without probation or release. Offenders will also have their licenses suspended for up to 60 days and undergo a one-year treatment program for alcohol abuse.
What constitutes a Violation in Kentucky?
The Kentucky penal code (KRS.532.020) designates all offenses that are not felony crimes, misdemeanors, or capital offenses as violations. They are punishable by fines and any punishment other than death or imprisonment. Violations are the least serious offenses in Kentucky. Categories of violations are:
- Traffic violations: these are violations of vehicle and pedestrian traffic laws. They are classified into:
- Moving traffic violations: these are serious traffic violations that are part of driving and criminal history records. They occur when a vehicle is in motion. Examples include ignoring road signs, driving above or under the speed limit, and tailgating.
- Non-moving traffic violations: these can also attract fines as severe as moving traffic violations. Although they are often thought to occur when a car is stationary, this category of violations also includes traffic violations that occur when a vehicle is in motion. Examples of non-moving traffic violations are parking in front of a fire hydrant, illegally parking in a handicapped spot, and parking in a no-parking zone.
- Non-traffic/civil violations: these are violations of offenses in state or local government criminal codes. An example of a civil violation is loitering,
What are some examples of Violations in Kentucky?
Some examples of violations in Kentucky are:
- Interfering with traffic control devices
- Making illegal turns on the highway
- Disregarding traffic officers’ signals
- Illegal parking, stopping or standing of vehicles on the highway
- Obstructing a vehicle operator’s view or control
- Blocking or following emergency vehicles
- Driving through a safety zone
- Obstructing an emergency responder
- Unlawful vehicle modifications
Can Violations be Expunged from a Kentucky Criminal Court Record?
Violations can be expunged from Kentucky criminal records (KRS.431.078).. As with misdemeanors, persons with violation or traffic infraction records may apply to have the records expunged after a period. This also includes those whose charges were dismissed after successfully completing the voluntary Pretrial Diversion Program. Individuals who complete the program will not have convictions on their records.
To be eligible for expungement, five years must have passed since the fulfillment of all the conditions of the violation.