What is a Gross Misdemeanor

A bill was recently introduced for consideration for Kentucky’s General Assembly next year that would change some felonies to “gross misdemeanors”. A felony is crime punishable by over a year and jail and if one pleads guilty, or is found guilty of a felony, it has previously kept people from (just some of the limitations) voting, owning a gun, and in many instances directly impacts their ability to find a job.

(The new Kentucky Law regarding expungement can be found at a previous blog post of https://www.fauverlaw.com/News-Events/New-expungement-rules-for-felonies-in-Kentucky. Expungement is a process wherein someone may be able to wipe their record clean.)

One thing that this new bill, sponsored by Representative Brent Yonts would do is keep so many people from becoming felons in the first place. This would in way establish a level between a “regular” misdemeanor and the current felonies. A misdemeanor is a lesser offense punishable by less than a year in jail and which, under certain rules, has always been expungeable in Kentucky. If the bill is assed as it currently is, some crimes, which are currently felonies, and which are nonviolent and nonsexual crimes would instead be “gross misdemeanors”. For example, a flagrant non-support case in Kentucky currently comes with a five-year prison sentence. So, if a person is convicted of that crime, not only will he or she serve up to five years in prison, he or she will have a harder time etting a job once they are labeled a felon.

That seems counterintuitive, as you want someone to be able to work and pay child support so that they don’t go to prison, as no one benefits from someone going to prison for up to five years instead of paying child support.

Under the proposed Bill, a gross misdemeanor wouldn’t carry a mandatory prison sentence. Each prison sentence would have to be determined by a jury. Further, if the person was not given a prison sentence by a jury, than that person would be placed on probation.

The bill is currently set to have hearings in October and could, in theory, go into effect next summer. We will have to wait and see.


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