Frequently Asked Questions
 
This Web site is designed to assist you by: 
  • Providing information about recent indictments and convictions of offenders. 
  • Offering support services for victims of crimes, including information about Victims Rights and Victim Notification programs. 
  • Educating you about the judicial process, answering questions regarding your role as a juror and providing contact information for any questions you may have for our office.
The following questions and answers can provide additional information. 
 
1. What is a Commonwealth Attorney?
The Commonwealth Attorney is the elected felony prosecutor for the circuit in which he or she lives. (The Eleventh Judicial Circuit is composed of Washington, Marion, Taylor and Green Counties.)
 
 
2. What is the primary difference in a County Attorney and a Commonwealth Attorney?
A county attorney is the elected misdemeanor prosecutor for the county in which he lives.
 
 
3. What does a Commonwealth Attorney do?
The Commonwealth Attorney prosecutes all felony cases that are committed in his/her circuit. A felony is any crime in which the minimum punishment is one (1) year in prison.
 
 
4. What is a Grand Jury?
The Grand Jury is a 12-member body of randomly selected persons who reside in the county in which the Grand Jury is meeting. The Grand Jury hears evidence of felony crimes and issues an indictment (official charge) against the defendant if at least nine (9) members of the Grand Jury believe there is probable cause that the defendant committed a felony. 
 
 
5. What happens after a person is indicted?
Normally a person indicted by a Grand Jury is arrested. If he/she can make the bond that is set, he/she is released. If not, he/she remains in jail until the case is resolved, the bond is lowered or he/she is able to make the original bond. After indictment, the defendant appears at an arraignment at which time the Judge will schedule a pre-trial conference and a trial date. The case is then disposed of by plea negotiation or is tried by a 12-member jury.
 
 
6. How many new indictments does the 11th Judicial Circuit have each year?
Most years, this circuit indicts between 500-700 new indictments per year.
 
 
7. What is the punishment range for a felony indictment?
Kentucky has 4 classes of felony charges. The punishment ranges are as follows:
 
-Class A Felony - 20 years to life (i.e. murder, rape, arson)
(death penalty is also available but statutory aggravating circumstances must exist before it becomes an option) 
-Class B Felony- 10-20 years (i.e. Manslaughter 1st, Assault 1st, Burglary 1st) 
-Class C Felony- 5-10 years (i.e. Assault 2nd, trafficking in cocaine, Burglary 2nd) 
-Class D Felony- 1-5 years (i.e. Wanton Endangerment 1st, DUI 4th, Flagrant Non-support)
 
 
8. What role does the Judge play in criminal cases?
In every case, the Commonwealth Attorney offers a plea negotiation to the defendant. If the defendant accepts the offer, the parties present this plea offer and acceptance to the Judge. The Judge will review the file and then let the Commonwealth Attorney and Defendant know whether the plea is accepted. If it is, the case is settled as the parties agreed. If the Judge rejects the offer, the parties can renegotiate or take the matter to a jury.
 
 
9. What happens if a felony criminal case goes to jury trial?
A 12-member jury hears evidence presented by both sides. Before a guilty verdict can be handed down, all 12 members of the jury must believe beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant committed the crime. Before a person can be found not guilty, every member of the jury must have a reasonable doubt about the guilt of the defendant. If all jury members cannot agree, it is called a hung jury and the defendant will have to be re-tried at a later date with a different jury panel.
 
 
10. If a jury finds the defendant guilty, who sets the punishment?
The jury. The felony trial is a two-step process if the defendant is found guilty. In the first phase, the jury is not allowed to be told of the criminal history, if any, of the defendant. Instead it hears only evidence of the crime for which he/she has been indicted. 
 
If the jury does convict the defendant, there is a short second phase in which the jury is told the penalty range and hears evidence of the defendant's criminal history, if any. The jury then sets the number of years based on the appropriate penalty range. The judge can then either punish the defendant as the jury directs or the judge can either reduce the years or probated the sentence. However, the judge is not allowed to give the defendant more years than the jury recommends. 
 
 
 
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Office of the Commonwealth Attorney
11th Judicial Circuit
214 East Main Street
Campbellsville, Kentucky 42718
(270) 789-6802
11thshared@prosecutors.ky.gov