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Your Louisville Criminal Case: The Basics

Living in Louisville isn’t all about eating fried chicken, betting on the Kentucky Derby, and swinging around those famous aluminum and composite baseball bats. Residents of the “Derby City” sometimes have to face the realities of life, such as getting arrested. The Kentucky criminal justice system can be a maze of twists and turns, exceedingly complicated, and usually never pleasant. But being armed with information can make the process a little more manageable. Here is some general information about what to expect in a Louisville criminal case.

Arrest and Charges

Your case will begin with getting arrested. The police officer typically writes up a police report and submits it to the Jefferson County prosecutor to review and decide what charges, if any, to file.

Tell Me about Posting a Bond

After getting arrested, you’ll either be released on your own recognizance or have to post bond. A bond is an amount of money you, or a person bailing you out of jail, promises to pay the court in case you fail to appear on any date set by the court. You usually have to put up 10% of the total amount of bail the judge sets in your case in order to get out.

You can go to the Circuit Criminal Division between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday to post a bond for someone.

Remember, when you post a bond, you are guaranteeing that the defendant will appear for all court appearances and abide by all non-financial conditions. Any cash or property posted is subject to forfeiture if the defendant fails to comply with all orders of the court.

How Does Someone Get a Lawyer?

Court proceedings in Louisville aren’t like what you see on television or in the movies. Criminal law and procedure can be extremely complicated and stressful. Before making any major decisions about a case, one should at least consider speaking to a Louisville criminal lawyer or a public defender.

How Long Does the Prosecutor Have to Charge Me?

Most states have a statute of limitations or time limit to file charges. Kentucky is different. Check out Ky. Rev. Stat. § 500.050.

There is absolutely no time limit for the prosecutor to file a felony charge against someone. If you stole a car 15 years ago, hypothetically, the district attorney can still charge you with that crime today.

The time limit for misdemeanors is one year from the date of the offense. However, if you commit a misdemeanor against a victim who is under 18 years old, you can be charged within five years of the victim’s 18th birthday.

Louisville Criminal Sentences: Misdemeanors

A misdemeanor in Louisville is less serious than a felony, but remember, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career and your freedom. For a non-citizen, a misdemeanor can impact your immigration status.

Misdemeanors are handled in District Court and are classified into two categories: A and B.

Common Louisville misdemeanors include shoplifting, assault in the fourth degree, harassment, public intoxication, alcohol intoxication, violation of emergency protective order/domestic violence order, and indecent exposure.

For Class A crimes, the punishment can be up to 12 months in jail and a $500 fine. For a Class B misdemeanor, you’re looking at up to 90 days in jail and up to a $250 fine. Some crimes carry additional penalties such mandatory counseling or substance abuse classes.

Penalties in Felony Cases

A felony is the most serious of crimes. They carry huge penalties, including years of prison time, large fines, and major repercussions for the rest of your life. You can lose some of your rights such as the right to carry a gun. You can also lose the right to vote or the right to join the military.

Louisville felonies include murder, robbery, sexual assault, fraud, drugs sales, or aggravated assault. Penalties in Louisiana are very severe and are determined based on the felony type and range anywhere from 1 to 50 years.

Those convicted of felony crimes may also face fines and probation, among other things.

Louisville Criminal Trial

If you end up in a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

You have the right to a jury trial where twelve randomly selected members of the community decide your guilt or innocence. Both the prosecutor and defense will present evidence, witnesses, and make arguments. Remember, you can’t be compelled to testify. If the jury finds you guilty, the judge will sentence you, whereas if you are not guilty, you will be released.

The Bottom Line

Louisville criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on someone’s life. However, anyone charged with a crime has options and rights, and may want to at least consider consulting with a local attorney.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex criminal defense situations usually require a lawyer
  • Defense attorneys can help protect your rights
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate criminal penalties

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many Kentucky attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

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