Felony charges are generally reserved for the most serious criminal offenses. Felonies are crimes punishable by at least one year in prison. In the most severe cases, felonies can result in life in prison.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a felony in Kentucky, it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. Dan Carman and Attorneys have represented many clients facing felony charges, and we can tell you that time is of the essence. A good legal defense should begin as soon as possible.
Classes of Felonies in Kentucky
Class A offenses are reserved for the most serious of all crimes, such as murder and rape of a child under the age of 12. People convicted of Class A felonies face 20 to 50 years’ or life imprisonment.
In Kentucky, Class B felonies include first-degree manslaughter and serious sex-based crimes, such as rape and sodomy. People convicted of Class B felonies face 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Class C felonies include unauthorized and unlawful access to a computer, unauthorized use of a credit card involving $10,000 or more, assault in the second degree, and manslaughter in the second degree, and trafficking in a controlled substance (over a certain amount). People convicted of Class C felonies face 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Class D felonies in Kentucky include possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, unauthorized use of a credit card involving a sum of money between $500 and $1,000, stalking in the first degree, possession of a controlled substance, and wanton endangerment in the first degree. Those with multiple offenses of “lesser” crimes might eventually face Class D felony charges, such as someone with four driving convictions for under the influence. People convicted of Class D felonies in Kentucky face 1 to 5 years’ imprisonment.
The Process of a Felony Conviction
- Arrest/Charge – A defendant can be arrested and charged at the scene of the crime or anytime after the alleged crime was committed. There is no statute of limitations on felony crimes in Kentucky.
- Arraignment/Initial Appearance – The defendant is brought before a judge in district court or a court of limited jurisdiction, where charges are read and the bond is reviewed.
- Preliminary Hearing – In a preliminary hearing, a judge will review the evidence to determine whether the case will be sent to a grand jury based on whether there is probable cause to believe a felony was committed.
- Grand Jury – Grand jurors will convene to hear the evidence against the defendant and determine whether the evidence warrants a felony charge. If the grand jury decides there is enough evidence to support probable cause, they will issue an indictment, or true bill, against the defendant.
- Arraignment/Pre-Trial Hearing – If indicted, the defendant will appear before a judge in circuit court, where they enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. Sometimes a plea of not guilty is part of a pre-arranged plea agreement.
- Various Hearings – a defendant may have a hearing on any number of issues, such as a motion to suppress.
- Pre-Trial – In the pre-trial, the defense and the prosecution resolve issues concerning the upcoming trial, and determine the list of witnesses that will appear in the trial.
- Trial – The next step is a trial in a circuit court. Jurors are selected, witnesses are called, and exhibits are introduced and entered into record. The prosecution presents their case, followed by the defense. Closing arguments are made, the jurors deliberate and, if they come to a unanimous decision, the verdict is read in court. If the jury cannot reach a decision, there is a hung jury, and the result may be the scheduling of a new trial.
- Pre-Sentence Investigation – After the trial, a judge orders a pre-sentence investigation report to learn more about the defendant’s criminal history, employment and economic status, education level, marital and parental status, and whether the defendant has any chemical dependencies or psychiatric problems.
- Sentencing – After the pre-sentence investigation, the defense and the prosecution appear before the judge to make their arguments regarding the sentence of the defendant. The defendant and the victim (if applicable) are allowed to speak before the judge. The judge will then order the sentence of the defendant.
The Role of An Attorney
As you can see, the many stages of a felony case can be a long, grueling process for a defendant. A skilled, experienced criminal defense attorney will use each stage in the process as an opportunity to help their client’s case. This might mean presenting evidence to avoid a trial, reaching a settlement that is in the best interest of their client or finding ways to lessen charges and sentences, or proceeding directly to trial.
If you or a loved one is facing a felony charge, Dan Carman and Attorneys can help. Our experience in criminal defense can be an asset to your case. The sooner we can begin your defense, the better the chances of a positive outcome. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist you.