Kentucky Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences

The basics of Kentucky misdemeanor crimes and penalties.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated March 29, 2023

Like most states, Kentucky distinguishes misdemeanors from felonies by the potential amount of time a person could spend behind bars. Misdemeanors carry the potential of up to one year in jail. If the possible sentence is more than a year's incarceration, the crime is a felony.

This article will review misdemeanor crimes, penalties, and sentences.

Misdemeanor Classifications and Penalties in Kentucky

Kentucky has two classes of misdemeanors—Class A and B misdemeanors.

Class A Misdemeanors

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable by 90 days to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $500. Resisting arrest, rioting, and wanton endangerment are examples of Class A misdemeanors in Kentucky.

Class B Misdemeanors

Class B misdemeanors carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $250. Public intoxication, menacing, and harassment are Class B misdemeanors in Kentucky.

Repeat Misdemeanors Enhanced to Felonies

For certain misdemeanors, Kentucky law imposes enhanced felony penalties. Examples of repeat misdemeanors that may be elevated to a Class D felony are assault on a family member, assault of a sports official, indecent exposure, possession of a handgun by a minor, and third-degree criminal gang recruitment. Typically enhanced penalties apply on a second or third conviction within a set amount of times, such as 5 or 10 years.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 532.020, 532.090, 534.040 (2022).)

Can You Go to Jail for a Misdemeanor in Kentucky?

It's possible to spend time in jail for a misdemeanor, especially for a repeat offender. But judges typically have broad discretion to impose sentencing alternatives, such as probation, home incarceration, day reporting, and community service.

Certain misdemeanor crimes may be ineligible for probation and other sentencing alternatives. For instance, a person who commits any of the following as hate crimes may be denied probation: fourth-degree assault, menacing, disorderly conduct, and harassment.

In some instances, a defendant may qualify for pretrial diversion. Successful completion of the terms of a diversion program means the defendant won't have a conviction on record.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. §§ 532.031, 532.040, 532.220, 533.015, 533.020, 533.070, 533.258 (2022).)

Statutes of Limitations for Misdemeanors in Kentucky

A statute of limitations is a time limit, after which the state can no longer begin criminal prosecution. The statute of limitations begins to "run" when the crime is committed. Misdemeanors usually have fairly short statutes of limitations. In Kentucky, the typical limitations period for misdemeanors is one year. However, misdemeanor sex offenses involving a child victim can be prosecuted up until the victim turns 28.

(Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.050 (2022).)

Getting Legal Help

Being convicted of any crime, even a misdemeanor, can have a negative impact on your life. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact an experienced Kentucky criminal defense attorney. A good attorney can tell you what to expect in court and help you successfully navigate the criminal justice system.

Talk to a Defense attorney
We've helped 95 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you