When you commit a crime in Kentucky, the penalties you receive depend on the category of crime committed. Being convicted of a Class C felony in Kentucky is serious, but not as serious as other categories of crimes in the state. Regardless, getting convicted of a Class C felony can mean significant jail time and fines, and a criminal record that follows you for life.
Categories of Crimes
Kentucky categorizes felonies based on the severity of the crime committed and its associated sentence. In Kentucky, felonies are classified as:
- Class A felonies including murder, armed robbery and grand larceny.
- Class B felonies including rape, sodomy and manslaughter.
- Class C felonies including trafficking in a controlled substance, unlawful access to a computer or unauthorized use of a credit card involving $10,000 or more.
- Class D felonies including stalking, wanton endangerment and possession of a controlled substance.
The most serious felonies are Class A felonies, which come with the strictest sentencing. Class D felonies don’t rise to the level of Class A crimes and come with less strict – but still significant – penalties.
What Is a Class C Felony in Kentucky?
A Class C felony in Kentucky falls in the middle of the spectrum when it comes to severity of the crime and the intent of the person who committed it. A variety of crimes fall into the Class C category.
Class C felonies in Kentucky include:
- Forgery in the first degree.
- Criminal possession of a forged instrument in the first degree.
- Bribery of a public servant.
- Burglary in the second degree.
- Robbery in the second degree.
- Rape in the second degree.
- Manslaughter in the second degree.
- Theft by deception or extortion of $10,000 or more.
- Incest, if committed by consenting adults.
- Human trafficking, unless it involves serious physical injury to the trafficked person.
Based on the intent of the person or on the wording of the Kentucky Penal Code, the same felony may fall under a different class. For example, human trafficking that involves serious physical injury to a trafficked person becomes a more serious Class B felony with corresponding penalties.
Read More: What is a Class D Felony?
Kentucky Class C Felony Penalty: Imprisonment
In Kentucky, felony punishments include prison sentences ranging from one year to life. The punishment depends on the severity of the crime and the facts of the case.
A Kentucky Class C felony penalty comes with anywhere from five to 10 years imprisonment in a state prison. When determining a prison sentence, the judge takes into account the defendant’s prior criminal history, the specifics of the act committed and the harm caused.
For certain felonies, an additional five years of post-incarceration supervision is added to the maximum sentence imposed.
Kentucky Class C Felony Penalty: Fines
Except where specific fines are authorized by statute, the fine for all felonies in Kentucky – including the Kentucky Class C felony penalty – is the same. The fine for committing a Kentucky Class C felony is no less than $1,000 and no more than $10,000, or double the amount of the defendant's gain from commission of the offense, whichever is greater. That means if the defendant stole $40,000 worth of goods from the victim, he could be fined up to $80,000.
The judge takes certain factors into account when determining the amount to fine the defendant:
- How much the defendant can pay.
- Any hardships imposed on the defendant’s dependents.
- How much the defendant gained from the crime, if anything.
- If the amount of the fine will affect the dependent’s ability to offer the victim restitution or reparation.
If the defendant committed two or more felonies at the same time, the aggregate amount he will pay is no more than $10,000, or double the amount of his gain from the commission of the offenses, whichever is greater.
Penalties for Repeat Felony Offenders
Kentucky laws impose additional punishments for those who commit a felonious crime more than once, whether the same crime or a different offense. In Kentucky, these defendants are known as persistent felony offenders.
If an offender who is at least 21 years of age commits a felony after a previous felony conviction and was at least 18 years old at the time of the previous conviction, the law requires him to be sentenced according to the next highest degree felony than that committed. For example, if a previously convicted felon is convicted of a Class C felony in Kentucky, the court must impose a sentence for the latest felony as if the defendant had committed a Class B felony. Class B felonies impose a punishment of 10 years to 20 years in jail.
Kentucky Sentencing Guidelines
When it comes to choosing the actual penalty for a Class C felony, judges take many factors into consideration. Kentucky sentencing guidelines aren’t cut and dry, and many things come into play when a defendant is convicted.
To determine a Kentucky Class C felony penalty, judges consider these Kentucky sentencing guidelines:
- If a weapon was involved.
- If someone was killed, intentionally or otherwise, during the crime.
- If someone was seriously injured, intentionally or otherwise, during the crime.
- The motive of the defendant.
- If other crimes were carried out concurrently.
As part of the Kentucky sentencing guidelines, judges also consider any mitigating factors, such as:
- The mental stability of the defendant.
- If the defendant was coerced to commit the crime.
- If the criminal act was provoked or was in self-defense.
Any of these factors may result in a lower sentence for the defendant than if he acted in his right mind, of his own free will and with intention.
Presentence Investigation for Felony Convictions
As part of sentencing in Kentucky, the judge is mandated by state law to order and review a presentence investigation report of the defendant. For the report, a probation officer determines facts about the defendant, including:
- Physical and mental health.
- Family life and background.
- Economic status.
- Educational level.
- Employment status.
- History of criminal behavior.
- History of substance abuse.
- Any needed counseling, education or rehabilitation.
Before sentencing, the judge may also order the defendant to undergo a psychiatric observation and examination. If the defendant is being convicted of a sex crime, the judge must order a comprehensive sex offender presentence evaluation.
Jury Sentencing in Kentucky Felony Cases
While a judge determines the ultimate sentence for a Class C felony, she takes her sentencing recommendations from jurors during a jury trial. When the jury deems a defendant guilty or guilty, but mentally ill, it must also determine the proper punishment based on Kentucky law.
Jurors take these factors into account when deciding sentencing:
- If the defendant has any prior convictions, whether felonies or misdemeanors.
- If the deferent has prior convictions, what crimes were committed.
- The defendant’s status on probation, parole or other forms of legal release.
- Juvenile court records, when applicable under Kentucky law.
- The nature and extent of any physical, mental or financial harm suffered by any victims.
If the jury is unable to come to an agreement on the penalty for a particular Class C felony conviction, the judge determines the appropriate sentence.
Penalties for Other Categories of Felonies
While the range for the amount fined for committing a penalty is the same for all four classes of felonies in Kentucky, the amount of jail time authorized differs for each.
The length of imprisonment mandated for the other three classes of penalties in Kentucky are:
- Class A felonies: 20 to 50 years, or life imprisonment.
- Class B felonies: 10 to 20 years.
- Class D felonies: One to five years.
For each class of felony, the same Kentucky sentencing guidelines are used to determine the appropriate penalty.
What Is the Felony Conviction Process?
A lot happens between the commission of a Class C felony and determination of the penalties. Once the defendant is arrested and charged, he is brought before the judge for an arraignment to hear the charges against him. During a preliminary hearing, evidence against the defendant is reviewed to determine if there is probable cause that he committed a felony.
If there is probable cause, the evidence is then heard before a grand jury to see if a felony charge is appropriate. If it is, and there is enough evidence to go to trial, there is a pretrial hearing. It is at the pretrial hearing that the defendant enters his plea of guilty or not guilty of the alleged crime, and any issues regarding a trial are resolved and a list of witnesses is determined.
Then comes the official trial, where both the prosecution and the defense present their cases to the jurors through testimony, witnesses and exhibits. Following presentation of the cases, the jurors deliberate to reach a unanimous decision and present their verdict to the court. If there is no unanimous decision, there is no conviction, and a new trial may be needed.
It is only after the trial that a judge orders a presentence investigation to learn more about the defendant. Once that is completed and reviewed, the judge hands down the final sentence.
How Long Does a Felony Appear on the Record?
If you are convicted of a felony, Class C or otherwise, it becomes part of your record. That means anytime you have a background check done for employment or other purposes or you register to vote, it will show up that you were convicted of a crime and that may be held against you.
You can get certain felony charges removed, but only for Class D felonies. You must ask that these charges or convictions be removed from your record, otherwise, they will remain a part of your criminal history indefinitely.
Consequences of a Class C Felony Conviction
Having a felony conviction on your record can have long-lasting consequences you may not even consider, no matter what type of felony you’re convicted of. In addition to being confined to jail for many years and having to potentially pay high fines, a felony conviction can make it hard to:
- Get employment.
- Earn a degree.
- Qualify for professional licenses.
- Receive financial aid.
With a felony conviction, you also won’t be allowed to vote, sit on a jury or possess a firearm in Kentucky. These types of penalties affect your livelihood and future well beyond your time in jail and your bank account.
- Kentucky General Assembly: Kentucky Revised Statutes 532.010., such ad Classification of Offenses.
- Kentucky General Assembly: Title L Kentucky Penal Code
- Kentucky General Assembly: Fines for Felonies
- Kentucky General Assembly: Sentence of Imprisonment for Felony
- Kentucky General Assembly: Persistent Felony Offender Sentencing
- Kentucky General Assembly: Presentence Procedure for Felony Conviction
- Kentucky General Assembly: Verdicts and Sentencing By Jury in Felony Cases
- Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy: Clean Slate Kentucky
Leslie Bloom earned a J.D. from U.C. Davis’ King Hall, with a focus on public interest law. She is a licensed attorney who has done advocacy work for children and women. She holds a B.S. in print journalism, and has more than 20 years of experience writing for a variety of print and online publications, including the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.