In the Commonwealth of Kentucky, crimes which carry a sentence of a year or more are classified as felonies. Felonies are divided into four categories and carry the following sentences defined in Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) 532.060:

  • Class A felony — 20 to 50 years or life imprisonment
  • Class B felony — 10 to 20 years
  • Class C felony — 5 to 10 years
  • Class D felony — 1 to 5 years

Felonies classified as “non-violent” carry 20% parole eligibility, which means a defendant convicted of a non-violent crime will meet the parole board after serving 20% of his or her sentence. Felonies classified as “violent” carry 85% parole eligibility, which means a defendant must serve 85% of his or her sentence before going before the parole board. Having one or more felony convictions can make a defendant eligible for “persistent felony offender” status which enhances the sentence range and affects parole eligibility.

Consequences of a Felony Conviction

A felony conviction can have serious and lasting consequences. Even after serving a prison sentence and paying a fine, a felony conviction can make if difficult to obtain a job, qualify for a professional license, or earn a degree. Citizens with felony convictions are not permitted to vote in Kentucky nor are they allowed to own or possess a handgun or firearm. While some Class D felonies allow for diversion, a felony conviction generally cannot be set aside. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a conviction is to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

District Court Process

Felony cases usually begin in Jefferson District Court before proceeding to the Grand Jury. In District Court, attorneys with the Jefferson County Attorney’s office consider the evidence and decide whether they will offer to amend the felony to a misdemeanor, dismiss the case, or proceed with the felony charge. If they choose to proceed, the defendant is entitled to a probable cause hearing. At the probable cause hearing, the Commonwealth must show that there is enough evidence to support probable cause that a felony occurred. The District Judge determines whether or not probable cause exists. If there is a determination that the probable cause burden has been met, the case is scheduled to be heard by the Grand Jury.

Grand Jury Process

Felony cases must be presented to a Grand Jury to determine whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to Circuit Court. The Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is responsible for presenting the evidence to the Grand Jury. Typically, the evidence is the testimony of the lead detective or police officer involved in the case. The Grand Jury will determine whether or not there is a “true bill” or “no true bill”. If there is a “true bill”, the case is considered “indicted” and proceeds to Circuit Court.

Trial Process

In Circuit Court, the defendant is arraigned on the felony indictment and receives a pre-trial conference date. Once arraigned, counsel for the defendant can begin filing appropriate motions regarding bond, suppression, discovery, etc. Typically, the attorney for the Commonwealth assigned to the case will make a plea offer to the defendant. The defendant may accept the plea or the case may proceed to a jury trial. The following is a timeline of a typical jury trial in Jefferson Circuit Court:

  • Voir Dire (jury selection);
  • Jury is selected and sworn in;
  • Opening statements are presented;
  • The Commonwealth puts on evidence against the defendant;
  • The defense team presents the case for the defendant;
  • Jury instructions are given to the jurors;
  • Closing statements are presented;
  • Jurors deliberate the case;
  • Verdict; and
  • If applicable, sentencing

We rely on our experience and knowledge of the Jefferson County Circuit Court system to provide effective representation for our clients facing felony charges. We take the necessary steps to ensure our clients understand the court process, their options, and the potential consequences of their decisions. Kellner Green is known in the Louisville legal community for our knowledge, experience, and dedication to our clients. We are able to use this knowledge and experience to provide our clients with aggressive representation at all levels of the criminal justice system. As experienced criminal attorneys, we are committed to protecting the rights and liberty interests of our clients.

If you’d like to learn how we can help with your felony case, contact us for a free consultation.

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