In Kentucky, accusations of domestic violence can lead to serious consequences. Misdemeanor charges can be enhanced to felonies and important rights can be lost. An experienced defense attorney is necessary to make sure that your rights are protected and your defense brings the best outcome possible.
Assault 4th Degree Enhancement to Felony
Under Kentucky statutes, KRS 508.032 enhances a third or subsequent offense of assault in the fourth degree within a 5-year period to a Class D felony if each assault is committed against the defendant's close family member or a member of an unmarried couple, as defined in KRS 403.720. KRS 403.720 defines “family member” as a spouse, former spouse, grandparent, grandchild, parent, child, stepchild, or any other person living in the same household as a child if the child is the alleged victim. A “member of an unmarried couple” is defined as each member of an unmarried couple which allegedly has a child in common, any children of that couple, or a member of an unmarried couple who are living together or formerly lived together.
Assault 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) and DVO Hearings
Defendants accused of an act of domestic violence and abuse should also be aware that while Kentucky law does not prohibit them from buying, selling, or possessing a firearm or ammunition, federal law does. Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8), anyone subject to “a court order that restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child” is prohibited from shipping or transporting firearms or ammunition across state or national borders, possessing a firearm or ammunition in a way that affects commerce, or receiving a firearm or ammunition which was shipped or transported across state or national boundaries. The statute only recognizes the protective order if the defendant had the opportunity to participate at a hearing before the order was issued. In Kentucky, this would be satisfied if a DVO hearing was held and the defendant was served with the EPO against them and properly notified about the hearing. The statute also requires the order to either indicate “that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child”, or that it “explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury”.
Assault (Domestic Violence) Conviction and Firearm Possession
In addition, under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9), anyone convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” is also prohibited from possessing a firearm. Under 18 U.S.C. § 921, misdemeanors are considered for this offense if they have, as an element of the offense, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon. Both of these offenses are punishable by fines, a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison, or both. If a person charged under 18 U.S.C. § 922(g) has three prior convictions by any court for a violent felony or serious drug offense, there is a minimum prison sentence of 15 years.
If you or a loved one is facing accusations of domestic violence in Kentucky, don't let important rights pass by. Hire an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the complexities of state and federal laws. For a consultation, contact us at (859) 259-0727.