September 15th, 2022 by Attorney Dan Carman
A felony charge can feel like a nightmare. However, it is crucial that you explore your legal options before it is too late. Sometimes a skilled lawyer can help you reduce your felony charge to a misdemeanor.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor
If you have received a criminal charge, it is important to know whether you were charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. One of these charges is significantly worse than the other and may involve serious jail time, fines, or the permanent loss of some rights.
What is a Felony?
A felony is a serious criminal charge. In Kentucky, felonies can carry penalties of up to life imprisonment. Depending on which class your felony falls into, the penalty can be anything from one year of imprisonment to life. Some felonies also have five years of post-incarceration supervision added to the maximum sentence. These supervision periods can lead to incarceration if the provisions are not carefully followed.
Imprisonment sentences for Kentucky’s various felony classes are:
- Class A felony: 20 to 50 years’ imprisonment or life imprisonment.
- Class B felony: 10 to 20 years’ imprisonment
- Class C felony: 5 to 10 years’ imprisonment
- Class D felony: 1 to 5 years’ imprisonment
Some felonies may be eligible for expungement, but many felonies will stay on your record for life. If possible, it is best to attempt to have your felony dropped to a less severe charge, like a misdemeanor.
What is a Misdemeanor?
Misdemeanors are less serious criminal charges than felonies. In Kentucky, your misdemeanor crime is punishable by no more than one year in the county or local jail. Misdemeanors are classified as either Class A or Class B. The severity follows the same pattern as felonies, with Class B misdemeanors being less severe than Class A misdemeanors.
Imprisonment sentences and fines for Kentucky’s misdemeanors are:
- Class A misdemeanors: not more than 12 months and/or a fine of not more than $500
- Class B misdemeanors: not more than 90 days and/or a fine of not more than $250
Many misdemeanors are eligible for expungement five years after completing the sentence.
Benefits of Expungement of Kentucky Misdemeanors
Felonies and misdemeanors on your record can negatively affect your life. You may have trouble securing a job, getting loans, or receiving housing assistance. The option to expunge your misdemeanor from your record can tremendously affect your quality of life. Some of the benefits in Kentucky include:
- Eligible for housing assistance
- Eligible for student loans
- Reassure employers you do not have a criminal record
- No need to fear background checks
- Eligible for certain professional licenses.
A Kentucky criminal defense attorney can help you with the expungement process if your charges qualify. Being eligible for expungement is an excellent reason to try to get your felony reduced to a misdemeanor.
How Can I Get a Felony Reduced to a Misdemeanor?
You have been charged with a felony, but you understand the immense benefits of getting your charges dropped to a misdemeanor. So, how can you accomplish this? There are a few ways to get your felony reduced, including the following:
- Hire a lawyer
- Avoid additional criminal offenses
- Enroll in drug rehabilitation or other assistance programs.
These steps can improve your chances of successfully dropping your felony charge down to a misdemeanor.
Hire a Lawyer
The most important thing you can do is to hire a competent, experienced criminal defense lawyer to plead your case. Depending on the unique facts of the case, your attorney may suggest one of several different strategies. No matter your criminal charge, if it is eligible for a reduction, a skilled lawyer experienced in reducing felonies is your best chance of success.
Avoid Additional Criminal Offenses
When you are attempting to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor, it is critical that you avoid additional criminal offenses. There is a good chance that your attorney will need to argue that your offense was a one-time mistake or that you are taking active steps to reform your behavior. If you receive additional criminal charges in the interim, the court is less likely to believe this argument.
Stay clean after your criminal charge. The fewer criminal charges you have on your record, the more likely your lawyer will successfully petition the court to reduce your felony to a misdemeanor.
Enroll in Drug Rehabilitation or Other Assistance Programs
One way to prove to the court that you are actively rehabilitating yourself is to enroll in rehabilitation or assistance programs. These can range from state-sponsored programs to private programs. Your attorney can recommend the best program for you based on your budget and the facts of your case. Showing the Kentucky courts that you are genuinely remorseful for your actions and actively seeking to better yourself and avoid future issues with the law can go a long way in persuading them to drop your felony to a misdemeanor charge.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
It is common to have questions if you have recently been charged with a felony. It is best to seek legal counsel to answer particular questions about your unique case. However, here are some commonly asked questions and general answers about felonies and misdemeanors in Kentucky.
Can a lawyer get a felony dropped to a misdemeanor?
Yes. In Kentucky, it is possible for a skilled lawyer to get a felony dropped to a misdemeanor. However, it is important to note that some felonies are eligible for a reduction while other felonies are not. In fact, in some cases, an experienced attorney may be able to have your felony charges dropped entirely.
Which is worse: felony or misdemeanor?
A felony is a far more severe charge than a misdemeanor. This is true in Kentucky and elsewhere in the U.S. In Kentucky, a convicted felon can be imprisoned for life. Meanwhile, a misdemeanor charge comes with a maximum 12-month imprisonment sentence.
Can a felony be reduced to a misdemeanor in Kentucky?
Yes. Depending on the felony and the unique circumstances of the crime, it may be possible to have your felony reduced to a misdemeanor in Kentucky. An experienced and highly skilled criminal defense attorney can advise you on your rights and legal options.
How long does a felony stay on your record in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, many felonies will stay on your criminal record for life. Some felonies are eligible for expungement, but many are not. You can apply for expungement five years after you pay associated fines or fees, and complete your sentence and any probation. If eligible, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you expunge your criminal record.
How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help?
If you are facing a felony charge, the most important thing you can do is to seek legal counsel from a high-quality criminal defense lawyer. The lawyers at Dan Carman, Attorney at Law PLLC, can advise you on your legal rights and options about reducing a felony to a misdemeanor. If your felony is eligible, we can help you form a legal strategy to fight for a reduction in your charges. There is no need to take this battle on alone when our lawyers are trained to win. Contact us today to set up your consultation.