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Kentucky’s Criminal Statute of Limitations


If you have been charged with a crime, it is crucial for you to understand that there is something called the “statute of limitations.” This is a law that prevents the prosecution from charging you with a crime after a specific period of time has passed. If the prosecution charges you with a crime after the statute of limitations has expired, you may have your case dismissed even if you are guilty. Usually, misdemeanors have shorter time limits than felonies. Some states do not even set a time limit for filing felony charges. In this article, we discuss Kentucky’s criminal statute of limitations.

Kentucky’s Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are crimes that are considered less serious than felonies. In Kentucky, these crimes are punishable by up to one year in jail. Examples of misdemeanors in Kentucky include cultivating less than five marijuana plants, unlawful possession of a weapon, public intoxication, menacing, resisting arrest, prostitution, and violating a protective order.

According to Kentucky Revised Statutes section 500.50, all misdemeanor cases, except one, must be filed within one year of the offense being committed. Violations in Kentucky must also be charged within one year after the crime is committed. Examples of violations in Kentucky include disobeying certain traffic laws, not having a rear-view mirror on a vehicle, hitchhiking on limited-access roads, and failing to register a car transfer.

Statute of Limitations for Misdemeanor Child Sex Offenses

As mentioned in the previous section, there is an exception to the general misdemeanor time limit. This exception is for a misdemeanor sex crime where the victim is a minor at the time of the offense. In Kentucky, a minor is someone who is under the age of 18. For a misdemeanor sex crime where the victim is under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, prosecution of the crime can commence within 10 years of the victim turning 18. In the case of a misdemeanor sex offense where the victim is younger than 18, Kentucky tolls or stops the running of the limitations “clock” until the victim turns 18.

Kentucky’s Statute of Limitations for Felonies

Felonies are crimes that are punishable by one year or more in state prison. Examples of felonies in Kentucky include rape, kidnapping causing severe injury or death, robbery in the first degree, and assault in the first, second, and third degree. According to Kentucky law, the prosecution of a felony can be commenced at any time.

Statutes of Limitations Can Change

It is vital to note that statutes of limitations for criminal cases can change. For instance, two years ago, the statute of limitations for misdemeanor sex crimes involving minor children changed so that the state can file charges anytime until the victim turns 28 and not 23. However, when a statute of limitations changes, the change does not affect past cases where the time limit has expired. When a statute of limitation changes, the change applies to offenses committed after the law changed and crimes committed before the law changed as long as the state hadn’t run out of time to commence prosecution.

Because state laws can change anytime, please consider contacting an attorney or conducting legal research of your own to verify state laws.

Contact a London Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are facing criminal charges in Kentucky, contact our London criminal defense attorneys at Cessna & George Law Firm for legal help.



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