Kentucky Court Records
What Do You Do if You Are On Trial For a Crime in Kentucky?
Upon arrest and indictment in the state of Kentucky, the accused is responsible for posting bail and hiring legal counsel.
Members of the public must note that an arrest and the existence of an arrest record is not definitive proof of guilt. Thus, only a comprehensive criminal record and court records can corroborate the offender’s culpability.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused of.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What Percentage of Criminal Cases goes to Trial in Kentucky?
According to Kentucky Courts 2018 Statistical Reports, prosecutors filed over 415,900 cases in the district and circuit courts’ criminal division. Of these cases, statistics reveal that only a small percentage of criminal cases eventually go to trial.
More often than not, criminal cases do not go to trial for various reasons. In the face of overwhelming evidence, the offender may opt to admit guilt, and the court will impose the appropriate penalties. Other times, the prosecuting team and the legal defense team agree on a plea bargain. Either way, justice is served, and the defendant conserves resources that would have been wasted in a protracted case. Also, the state can devote limited resources to ensure competent and timely justice in other cases.
When Does a Criminal Defendant Have the Right to a Trial?
The Sixth Amendment of Criminal Procedure states that defendants subject to criminal prosecution have the inalienable right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the state and district where the individual committed the crime. However, there is a nuance concerning competency to stand trial. Per KRS 504.030, an individual may not stand trial if they are medically proven to have mental insanity. A trial judge is not required to consider a claim of memory loss to determine fitness for trial.
What Are The Stages of a Criminal Trial in Kentucky?
Typically, a criminal trial in Kentucky goes through seven (7) stages. These include:
- Pleas and Negotiation
- Status hearing or pre-trial conference
- Jury deliberations and verdict
- Sentence Appeal
Note that some counties such as Fayette County consider eligible criminal offenders for a diversion program after pleas. Diversion programs are handled by specialty courts and often target non-violent, first-time offenders and juveniles with no prior conviction history. Upon completion of the program, the offender may be eligible for record expungement.
How Long Does it Take For a Case to Go to Trial in Kentucky?
It depends. There are no run-and-gun rules for the period before the prosecution of a crime. It depends on the complexity of the case. Kentucky laws ensure that crimes are brought to trial promptly. Rule 4 of criminal proceedings directs the court to schedule a pre-trial conference within 60 days. Likewise, jury trials must hold within six (6) months of the arraignment.
Meanwhile, there are statutes of limitation on the window before prosecution of a crime. According to KRS 500.050, misdemeanor trials must occur within one year, but there is no time limit on felonies. Attorneys on both sides need time to gather evidence, find witnesses, and file court paperwork, among other things. Thus, even a simple case can take weeks to several months before it goes to trial. Likewise, the length of prosecution of a criminal case may take several years.
What Happens When a Court Case Goes to Trial in Kentucky?
Criminal prosecution is an elaborate process in Kentucky. The Department of Public Advocacy provides a comprehensive explanation, according to the Kentucky Rules of Criminal Procedure. Trials for misdemeanors and felonies are inherently different, although there are some similarities. In any criminal case, the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the alleged crime. Thus, defendants are presumed innocent and never have the burden of proving their innocence.
- Trial: Both sides of the case will present the case in an adversarial manner. The prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by using arguments, witnesses, and evidence. The defense attorney tries to disprove the prosecutor’s arguments with evidence to create reasonable doubt or merely demonstrate that the prosecution failed to prove the defendant’s guilt.
- Deliberations and Verdict: After arguments, the presiding judge will give the jury instructions on the law rules that apply to the case. The jury will retire to consider the evidence presented to determine whether the state succeeded in proving guilt under the rule of law. For misdemeanors, the jury must arrive at a unanimous decision, while for a felony trial, nine (9) of the twelve (12) members of the grand jury must agree to indict the defendant.
- Sentencing: Here, the presiding judge imposes penalties applicable to the crime under Kentucky Laws. For misdemeanors, the judge sentences the offender immediately after conviction. Conversely, under KRS 532.050, the judge must order a pre-sentence investigation before deciding the punishment for convicted felons. The investigation evaluates the defendant’s criminal history, mental conditions, family background, educational history, employment history, and psychological status. All of these factors influence the severity of the sentence and the offender’s eligibility for parole.
Can You Be Put on Trial Twice for the Same Crime in Kentucky?
It depends. KRS 22A.020 protects individuals from double jeopardy—standing trial for the same charge. Once the defendant has been discharged and acquitted, the state cannot retry that individual on that specific charge. However, the state can try the offender on a different charge arising from the crime.
How Do I Lookup a Criminal Court Case in Kentucky?
Records of criminal court cases are available to interested persons at the Clerk of Courts’ office as directed by the Kentucky Open Records Act. Interested requesters must visit the court where the case was filed and heard in person during business hours. Generally, the requester must provide the necessary details to identify and retrieve the record. Some of these details include the docket number, case number, filing date, litigants’ names, and the presiding judge. The Clerk of Courts will not release court records that have been expunged or sealed under KRS 61.878.
Furthermore, the record custodian may charge administrative fees incurred in searching and reproducing the records. Requesters may be eligible for a fee waiver at the Clerk’s discretion or if an individual accessed the records on public terminals at the courthouse. Use the Kentucky judicial directory to find the address and contact information of courts.
How To Access Electronic Court Records in Kentucky
The Kentucky judiciary maintains electronic copies of court records on a central repository while local courts allow requesters to use public terminals at the courthouse. Interested individuals may access the repository remotely and print the information retrieved. Independent repositories are also useful to access electronic case records, especially when obtaining multiple records in different jurisdictions. Note that the restriction of access to sealed or expunged records also applies to electronic records. Consequently, the requester must get a court to allow access to that specific record.
How Do I Remove Public Court Records in Kentucky?
The removal, also known as sealing or expungement, of a public court record depends on the case’s nature. For one, automatic expungement applies to all cases, except traffic cases, that were dismissed with prejudice or acquitted on or after July 15, 2020. In this case, the defendant does not have to submit a petition, and the expungement happens within 30 days. On the other hand, most class D felonies are eligible for expungement under KRS 431.073. Interested individuals must follow these instructions.