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Categories of Crimes
If you have been charged with a Felony or Misdemeanor, you probably have questions. We have answers. First, not all crimes are created equal, and how they are charged and prosecuted is certainly not the same. Most States and the Federal system divide crimes into several categories depending on the seriousness of the crime involved. In Kentucky there are:
Each of these categories is further broken down into different levels known formally as “classes.” Each class has a different level of seriousness, and each has different allowable punishments. Criminal charges are most often divided by the amount of jail time that can potentially be received. Each category has a different maximum penalty allowed for each charge.
These are the least serious types of criminal offenses, often known as “minor offenses.” Infractions are violations of local rules, ordinances, and/or sometimes laws. Infractions almost never have jail time as a potential punishment and normally only result in a fine. Common infractions include trespassing, littering, disturbing the peace, and most common - traffic tickets. However, there are increases that can be added to traffic tickets that can include jail time, often known as aggravators.
What’s An Aggravator?
An aggravator is a specific circumstance that increases the level of a criminal charge. An example is a second-degree assault charge vs. a second-degree assault with a deadly weapon charge. The aggravator is that the crime included the use of a deadly weapon which can result in a larger sentence.
Misdemeanors vs. Felony Charges
Misdemeanors are more severe than infractions but less severe than felonies. In Kentucky, misdemeanors are criminal charges that have a maximum jail sentence of less than one (1) year. Misdemeanors are further broken down into classes :
- Class A Misdemeanors - carry a maximum penalty of twelve (12) months jail time and up to a $500 fine
- Class B Misdemeanors - carry a maximum penalty of ninety (90) days in jail and a $250 fine
Examples of Class A Misdemeanors
Examples of Class B Misdemeanors
Misdemeanor charges will stay on someone’s record indefinitely, unlike many infractions. Therefore, it is important to fight these charges (while they are pending if possible) to maintain a clean criminal record.
If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor charge, they can seek to have the change expunged.
Having a charge expunged means the charge is removed from a person’s criminal record and will not appear on background checks.
The list of charges that are approved for expungement is continually updated in Kentucky. This means that just because your charge is not currently expungable, it may be in the future. Thus, it is important to check in regularly to see if your charge has been added as an expungable charge. A criminal defense attorney can assist you in determining if your charges are eligible for expungement in Kentucky.
Felony Charges in Kentucky
In addition to prison sentences, felony criminal charges in Kentucky can result in orders to pay a fine up to $10,000 or double any gin from committing the offense, whichever is greater.
Some crimes can also include restitution, which is different from fines. Restitution is money paid to reimburse the victim of the crime. Restitution can include monetary damages to property or the cost of covering a victim's medical bills