Kentucky Domestic Violence
The term “domestic violence” is used to describe any act of physical violence (hitting, choking or pushing), sexual abuse (forcing someone to have sex against their will) or threats of violence between people who have an intimate relationship, people who are closely related by blood or marriage, or people who live in the same household. A conviction for domestic violence carries harsh penalties in Kentucky, possibly including jail or prison time, a domestic violence protective order and other serious, life-changing consequences. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Kentucky, or if you have been accused of committing abuse against an intimate partner or family member in a petition for a protective order, you need an experienced domestic violence defense attorney on your side who can protect your rights and mount an aggressive defense against the criminal charges.
Kentucky Domestic Violence Law
According to the Kentucky Revised Statute § 403.720, domestic violence and abuse include acts of physical violence, sexual abuse, stalking, assault, strangulation or threats of harm between family members or members of an unmarried couple. This can include a spouse or former spouse, a parent, a child, a grandparent, a grandchild, a stepchild, members of an unmarried couple who are living together or who formerly lived together, a person with whom the alleged offender has a child in common, any child of an unmarried couple, or any other person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim of domestic violence. With a few exceptions, the state of Kentucky does not have criminal statutes that relate exclusively to domestic violence crimes. Instead, there are a number of criminal statutes in Kentucky that may apply to acts of domestic violence, depending on the nature and severity of the crime. These may include the following:
- Assault in the first, second, third or fourth degree (KRS §§§§ 508.010, 508.020, 508.025, 508.030)
- Assault of family member or member of an unmarried couple/felony assault (KRS § 508.032)
- Menacing (KRS § 508.050)
- Kidnapping (KRS § 509.040)
- Terroristic threatening in the third degree (KRS § 508.080)
- Stalking in the first or second degree (KRS §§ 508.140, 508.150)
- Criminal abuse in the first, second or third degree (KRS §§§ 508.100, 508.110, 508.120)
- Wanton endangerment in the first or second degree (KRS §§ 508.060, 508.070)
- Strangulation in the first or second degree (KRS §§ 508.170, 508.175)
- Rape in the first, second or third degree (KRS §§§ 510.040, 510.050, 510.060)
- Sexual abuse in the first, second or third degree (KRS §§§ 510.110, 510.120, 510.130)
- Sexual misconduct (KRS § 510.140)
- Unlawful imprisonment in the first or second degree (KRS §§ 509.020, 509.030)
There are also some Kentucky statutes that specifically relate to domestic violence crimes, including those related to violations of domestic violence protective orders.
Penalties for Kentucky Domestic Violence Offenses
Because there are so many different crimes that can fall under the umbrella of domestic violence, the criminal penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction in Kentucky depend a great deal on the nature and severity of the underlying crime. For instance, the crime of terroristic threatening in the third degree (KRS § 508.080) is a Class A misdemeanor in Kentucky, carrying a possible punishment of up to 12 months in jail, while the far more serious crime of assault in the first degree (KRS § 508.010) is a Class B felony, carrying a possible punishment of between 10 and 20 years in prison. The law also calls for enhanced criminal penalties for repeat offenders. So, if a defendant in Kentucky is found guilty of a third or subsequent offense of fourth-degree assault within five years, and the relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim in each of the offenses meets the definition of “family member or member of an unmarried couple,” the defendant may be convicted of a Class D felony. As a Class D felony offense, assault in the fourth degree carries a possible punishment of up to five years in prison.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders in Kentucky
If you have been accused of committing domestic violence against a spouse, family member or household member, the alleged victim may petition the court for a protective order, also known as a domestic violence restraining order. These orders are designed to protect alleged victims from harm perpetrated by a family member or someone they are in a relationship with. There are several different types of protective orders available to alleged victims of domestic violence in Kentucky, including Emergency Protective Orders, long-term Domestic Violence Orders, Temporary Interpersonal Protective Orders, long-term Interpersonal Protective Order or foreign (out-of-state) protective orders.
No Mandatory Arrest for Domestic Violence
Unlike other states, Kentucky does not have a mandatory arrest law for domestic violence situations, meaning the police are not required to make an arrest when responding to a domestic violence call based on probable cause that a crime occurred. There is, however, a mandatory arrest statute in Kentucky that requires the police to make an arrest when there is probable cause that a violation of any of the above domestic violence restraining orders has occurred (KRS § 403.760). If the court grants a protective order against you and you violate the terms of the order, you could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor offense, punishable by 12 months in jail and up to $500 in fines.
How a Kentucky Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Can Help
Domestic violence is a serious, pervasive problem in Kentucky and across the United States, and every state has its own laws regarding domestic violence offenses, which is why individuals accused of domestic violence need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney with experience handling domestic violence cases in their state. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Kentucky, whether you are facing criminal charges already or suspect you may be charged in the future, it is imperative that you retain the services of a reputable Kentucky domestic violence defense attorney. Things tend to move quickly in domestic violence cases, and the sooner you hire a good defense attorney, the sooner he or she can get to work protecting your rights, investigating the charges against you and collecting evidence to support your side of the story.