Legal Information: Kentucky

Kentucky Crimes

Laws current as of
September 29, 2021


Even if you do not qualify for a protective order / domestic violence order, the abuser may have committed a crime. If you call the police, they may arrest him/her for a crime and you may get a restraining order through the criminal court. Remember that even if you do have a protective order/domestic violence order or a criminal complaint, you can still report him/her to the police if you believe s/he committed a crime against you.

If the abuser has misused technology in a way that you believe may be a crime, go to our Abuse Using Technology section to learn what types of behaviors are covered under criminal state laws.

What are some crimes that the abuser may have committed in Kentucky?
How do I file a criminal complaint?
If I am the victim of a crime, where can I get additional help in Kentucky?

What are some crimes that the abuser may have committed in Kentucky?

Here is a list of some possible crimes in Kentucky that the abuser may have committed. You can click on the links to read the legal definition of each crime on our State Statutes page:

How do I file a criminal complaint?

If you believe that a crime has been committed against you, one option you have is to file a criminal complaint at the district court clerk’s office. (If you are filing against a minor, you may file in a different place - this will vary by county.) You will fill out an affidavit (sworn statement) in which you describe what happened to you. You will need to bring a valid I.D. with your picture. You will need the full name and complete address of the person you wish to file against (the defendant). A date of birth and social security number of the defendant are also helpful. It is also helpful to bring the names and addresses of any witnesses with you. Depending on the county you are in, you might need a police report if you are reporting certain crimes, such as felonies or thefts. You might want to call ahead to ask the clerk whether a police report is necessary before filing the complaint. There is no fee to file, and you do not need a lawyer.1

The affidavit that you fill out will be reviewed by the county attorney’s office, and a decision will be made regarding what charges, if any, will be brought against the defendant. It is also possible that instead of criminal charges being brought against the defendant, your case may be referred for mediation, which means it would be handled outside of the criminal justice system. If mediation is not successful, however, your complaint may again be considered for criminal prosecution or your complaint may be forwarded to the district court judge’s office where a judge will review the complaint. The judge can do one – or none – of the following:

  1. Criminal summons - an order that the defendant appear in district court. This is a notice and not an arrest. The summons will advise the defendant to appear in court for the arraignment.
  2. Arrest warrant - the defendant will be arrested, taken to jail, and later arraigned in district court.1

1 See, for example, Fayette County Domestic Violence Resource Guide (Note: The procedure and information may be different in other counties)

If I am the victim of a crime, where can I get additional help in Kentucky?

The Kentucky Department of Corrections has a Victim Services Branch, which provides information on victims’ rights and services. You can also call them at (877) 687-6818.

For information on victims’ compensation in Kentucky, visit the State of Kentucky’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, or contact them by telephone at (502) 573-2290.

You may learn more about crimes by calling your local police department, sheriff’s department, or district attorney’s office. See our KY Sheriff Departments page for the contact information for your local sheriff’s department.

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have been charged with a crime, you can go to our Battered Women Charged with Crimes page.

Other organizations for victims of crime are listed on our National Organizations - Crime Victims page.

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