In Kentucky, a felony is a crime that is punishable by one year or more in state prison. Less serious crimes (called misdemeanors) are punishable by up to one year in jail.
For more information on misdemeanors in Kentucky, see Kentucky Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Kentucky law designates felonies as capital offenses or Class A, B, C, or D felonies.
Murder is a capital offense in Kentucky. Capital offenses are punishable by:
- life without parole
- 25 years to life in prison, or
- 20 to 50 years’ imprisonment.
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 507.020, 532.060.)
Class A Felony
A class A felony is punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison, or life imprisonment. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060.) Rape of a child under the age of 12 is a Class A felony. (For more information on sex crimes and their penalties under Kentucky law, see Kentucky Sexual Battery Laws.)
Class B Felony
Class B felonies in Kentucky are punishable by ten to 20 years’ imprisonment. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060.) For example, intentionally shooting someone and causing serious injury (first degree assault) is a Class B felony. (For more information on assault penalties in Kentucky, see Felony Assault in Kentucky.)
Class C Felony
A conviction for a Class C felony can result in a prison term of five to ten years. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060.) Theft of property worth $10,000 or more is a Class C felony in Kentucky. (For more information on penalties for theft, see Kentucky Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws.)
Class D Felony
Finally, a Class D felony is punishable by one to five years in prison. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060.) For example, trafficking marijuana near a school building is a Class D felony. (For more information on penalties for marijuana crimes, see Kentucky Marijuana Laws.)
In addition to prison terms, people who are convicted of felonies in Kentucky will be sentenced to pay a fine of $1,000 to $10,000.
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 534.030.)
Prior Felony Convictions
People who are convicted of felonies in Kentucky and have prior felony convictions are subject to longer prison terms than people who are convicted of the same crimes but do not have a felony criminal record.
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 532.080.)
Statute of Limitations
In most states, for all but the most serious crimes, there is a time limit (called the statute of limitations) before which the state must begin criminal prosecution. Kentucky is unusual because it has no statute of limitations for felony crimes.
For more information, see Kentucky Criminal Statute of Limitations.
The Value of Legal Assistance
A felony conviction can have serious and lasting consequences. Even after serving a prison term and paying a fine, a felony conviction can make if difficult to obtain a job, qualify for a professional license, or earn a graduate degree. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a conviction is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you how what to expect in court and how to protect your rights.