In Kentucky, a felony is a crime that is punishable by one year or more in state prison. Kentucky law designates felonies as capital offenses or Class A, B, C, or D felonies. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 532.010 (2019).)
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.
Murder and kidnapping that results in death are capital offenses in Kentucky. Capital offenses are punishable by:
(Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 507.020, 509.040, 532.030 (2019).)
A Class A felony is punishable by 20 to 50 years in prison, or life imprisonment. Rape of a child under the age of 12 (first degree rape) is a Class A felony. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060 (2019).)
Class B felonies in Kentucky are punishable by ten to 20 years’ imprisonment. For example, intentionally shooting someone and causing serious injury (first degree assault) is a Class B felony. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060 (2019).)
A conviction for a Class C felony can result in a prison term of five to ten years. Theft of property worth at least $10,000 but less than $1,000,000 is a Class C felony in Kentucky. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060 (2019).)
Finally, a Class D felony is punishable by one to five years in prison. For example, cultivating five or more marijuana plants is a Class D felony. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 532.020, 532.060 (2019).)
In addition to prison terms, people who are convicted of felonies in Kentucky will be sentenced to pay a fine of between $1,000 and $10,000 or double any gain from committing the offense, whichever is greater. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 534.030 (2019).)
State law calls people who are convicted of felonies in Kentucky and have prior felony convictions “persistent felony offenders.” They 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 (2019).)
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. (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 500.050 (2019).)
A felony conviction can have serious and lasting consequences. Even after serving a prison term and paying a fine, a felony conviction can make it 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. A good attorney can tell you how what to expect in court and how to protect your rights.