In comparison to felonies, misdemeanor offenses are considered to be less serious crimes than criminal offenses; nonetheless, they can still result in penalties that place the offender behind bars in your local county jail and you can still have a criminal history and record.
Going to Jail for a Misdemeanor in Kentucky
In the state of Kentucky, a misdemeanor is a class of offense that carries a potential sentence of up to one year in a county or local jail. Both Class A and Class B offenses are considered to be misdemeanors (With Class B being less serious than Class A):
- Class A Misdemeanor. One year or less, but more than six months.
- Class B Misdemeanor. Six months or less, but more than thirty days.
- Class C Misdemeanor. Thirty days or less, but more than five days.
What is a Misdemeanor?
A felony is an act that is punishable by more severe penalties than a misdemeanor. The most serious crimes you can commit are felonies, which can result in criminal charges, lengthy jail or prison terms, fines, or the permanent loss of your freedom. On the contrary, most misdemeanor offenses result in modest fines, brief penalties, community service, and perhaps some minor jail time. For instance, if you are slightly over the legal limit during a DUI stop, you may only receive a misdemeanor penalty; however, if you have children in the car or are much over the legal limit, you may receive a felony prosecution. They are prosecuted in municipal and district courts.
In the United States, the federal government generally considers a crime punishable with incarceration for not more than one year, or a lesser penalty, to be a misdemeanor. Most felonies require the prosecution to show the defendant intended to commit the criminal act as opposed to a misdemeanor which is based only on recklessness or negligence.
Standard Misdemeanor Charges
Class A Misdemeanor
Criminal charges classified as class A misdemeanors in the state of Kentucky can result in a maximum prison term of one year, a maximum fine of $500, or both. Class A Misdemeanors include, but are not limited to, the examples of misdemeanors:
- Theft by illegal take of less than $500.
- Sexual misbehavior.
- A fourth-degree assault.
- A second infraction DUI or a second offense of driving while having your license revoked or suspended within a five-year window.
- Breach of a restraining order.
- Domestic Battery.
Class B Misdemeanor
Less serious crimes classified as Class B misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of 90 days in jail, a fine of no more than $250, or both a jail sentence and a fine. What is referred to as a “violation” is a class of infractions that is even less serious and only carries a punishment of up to $250. Class B misdemeanors include, but are not limited to, the following offenses:
- An initial offense DUI is the first offense of driving while having a license that has been revoked.
- or suspended within a five-year period.
- Public Drunkenness.
- A resisting officer.
- Second-degree criminal trespass.
- Threatening messages.
Mini-Class B Misdemeanors
Low-level misdemeanors include vandalism, disorderly conduct, and “disturbing the peace.” Meanwhile, more serious misdemeanors like burglary and grand theft might be punishable by jail sentences. Infractions that carry a jail sentence of up to 45 days maximum sentence fall under this narrow subcategory. Possession of Marijuana is the most common minor Class B misdemeanor.
Can a Drug Crime Be a Misdemeanor?
Although each state has a different definition of controlled dangerous substances (CDS) and different penalties for possession, all states regulate CDS. Not only do drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine fall under the CDS umbrella in Kentucky, but so are the chemicals utilized in their production. Kentucky has five “schedules” for its CDS.
In Kentucky, the possession of CDS is unlawful, with the exception of those who have a legitimate prescription for the medications. The type and amount of CDS implicated in the violation will determine the charges and penalties you face.
What Are Gross Misdemeanor Charges?
From the perspective of the law in the United States, gross misdemeanors are more serious than standard misdemeanors, but they are still categorized as minor crimes and offenses. Petty theft, simple assault, and driving while intoxicated are examples of this type of crime.
However, some states do not classify simple misdemeanors by categories.
What is a Wobbler?
The term “wobbler” refers to a specific subset of crimes characterized by a wide range of severity and can “wobble” between being a felony offenses and a petty misdemeanor depending on the circumstances of each case. Many offenses are covered under Wobbler laws, including assault with a dangerous weapon, vehicular manslaughter, and money laundering.
Other Penalties That Can Earn You a Misdemeanor
Misdemeanors in Kentucky can also be earned if you face the following penalties:
- Fewer than five marijuana plants are being grown
- Phone calls of harassment
- Forgery of a third-degree kind.
Even minor offenses can be upgraded to felonies based on the circumstances and aggravating elements. These infractions are the aforementioned “wobbler” infractions. There are a number of variables that will influence your sentence, including the nature of the crime and any prior criminal convictions.
Going to Jail For a Misdemeanor in Kentucky
In Kentucky, misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and are regarded as less serious than felonies. Felony and misdemeanor conviction carry time in state prison, not county jail, unlike misdemeanor crimes. Nearly all misdemeanors are non-violent criminal offenses. If they do involve the use of force or violence, like assault, the injuries that they produce are generally minor. There are also fines to be paid as a kind of punishment.
Common Punishments For Misdemeanors
Punishment for a Standard Misdemeanor
The least egregious offenses, also known as infractions or violations, are merely subject to a monetary fine as their punishment. In most cases, the punishment for a misdemeanor is either a monetary fee, time spent in jail, or some combination of the two.
Punishment for a Gross Misdemeanor
Cases of driving under the influence for the first time, domestic assaults of the fourth degree, and driving recklessly are all examples of gross misdemeanors. If you are found guilty of committing a gross misdemeanor, you may receive a sentence that requires you to spend up to 364 days in jail, pay a fine of up to $5,000, or receive a sentence that requires you to do all of these things simultaneously.
Can I Get Probation for a Misdemeanor?
“Unsupervised probation” may or may not include a probation officer. If you commit a misdemeanor or felony during probation, it might be revoked, and you could face part or all of your original term.
You could also be charged with the new crime that revoked your probation. In the event of a probation breach, the prosecution’s burden of proof is reduced to “predominance of the evidence.”
Can Felonies Be Reduced to Misdemeanors?
This can be done in four ways: by entering a plea deal, participating in a diversion program, finishing misdemeanor probation, or by establishing that there are no felony elements in the crime in the case of “wobbler” charges.
The 3 Stages of the Criminal Court Process for a Misdemeanor
1. Misdemeanor Arrangement
When an officer or a citizen decides to file a misdemeanor charge, the charging document is the next step. Most of the time, the officer or citizen who files the complaint has to give enough facts for probable cause. This means that the judge who looks at the complaint has to decide that it is likely that a crime happened. When this happens, a warrant or a summons will be sent out.
A warrant to arrest someone is a court order to do so. Most of the time, sheriffs serve them, but if you have a warrant, the police can hold you and take you to jail. A criminal defense attorney can help the accused escape jail time by negotiating the bond price or if a warrant is recalled.
Appearing in Court for the Arraignment
The first court appearance is known as an arraignment. This is your chance to make a case. Before a criminal conviction, a “not guilty” plea is often entered at arraignment in most cases. Defendants in criminal cases have several legal protections that can be explained by criminal defense lawyers.
Pleading Guilty at the Arraignment
In many cases, both the prosecution and defense know a person will plead guilty. Pleading guilty often results in reduced penalties for the defendant. Depending on the offense, the judge may read the sentence after the plea. In larger cases, the sentencing process follows the plea.
The court will question if the defendant’s guilty plea is sincere and intelligent as soon as the defendant does so. Many of the jury’s inquiries will center on the defendant’s understanding of the consequences of their guilty plea and their rights.
What Happens If I Plead Not Guilty?
Pleading not guilty implies the defendant will attend a pretrial hearing to discuss trial facts and terms. At this stage, settlements can be achieved. Not guilty doesn’t mean fully innocent. It means they’re not admitting all allegations. On the other hand, pleading guilty means the offender admits to committing what they’re accused of and you will need an experienced criminal defense attorney.
2. Pretrial Hearing
A pre-trial conference or hearing is a type of proceeding in which the judge decides whether or not the prosecution and defense have reached an agreement on the defendant’s plea. In that case, the judge will administer an oath to the defendant and hear their plea on the specified date.
Failing to Make a Plea Deal at the Pre-Trial Hearing
A criminal defendant must plead almost always. When prosecutors decide not to file charges or dismiss them at arraignment or initial appearance, the defendant may not have to plead. Even so, in the early phases, defendants must plead. (Most cases require at least two pleas: initially not guilty, then guilty, or no contest per plea arrangement.)
Some defendants postpone pleading because they can’t afford representation. Judges agree sometimes. Some defendants refuse to plead, whether they’re uncooperative or don’t understand.
If the defendant refuses to plead or speak, the court will enter a not guilty plea for them. (The judge may try to determine why the defendant won’t plead and urge them to.) Someone who refuses to plead may wind up on trial because a plea deal is unlikely.
Appearing at the Pre-Trial Hearing
The importance of a pre-trial hearing cannot be overstated. Because of its importance, in some ways, it is more significant than the final trial. This is a chance for a pre-trial settlement. Sometimes, a pre-trial may reveal insufficient evidence to carry a matter to trial.
Some cases depend on the credibility of witnesses. If a witness is found to be untrustworthy during the pre-trial hearing, it can have a substantial impact on the prosecution’s or the defense’s plans. If a settlement cannot be found, the case will be taken to a preliminary hearing, which is a trial before a trial.
3. Misdemeanor Trial
A trial will be held if the case cannot be resolved in step five. Voir dire is the first step in a jury trial. The judge, prosecutor, and defense attorney ask potential jurors questions about their preexisting views on many matters to see if they are qualified to sit on the case. Both the prosecution and the defense will be able to “strike” or dismiss a certain number of jurors from the jury panel.
Getting a Misdemeanor Expunged in Kentucky
After completing your sentence or successfully completing probation, you can now petition the courts of Kentucky for your misdemeanor record to be expunged, provided that you have no pending charges and your petition is filed no sooner than five (5) years after your sentence or probation is completed, whichever occurs first.
Are you looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Lexington, Kentucky? Save time and find the reliable team you need today. You deserve a decent and effective defense. We got your back when it comes to your legal issue!