Arraignment in Kentucky

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In Kentucky, a defendant’s initial appearance before a judge happens either soon after arrest or after an information or indictment is filed. (Ky. R. Crim. P. 3.02, 8.01.)

(For information on arraignment and initial court appearances in general, see Arraignment: Getting to Court. Also see How should I plead at arraignment?)

“Unnecessary Delay”

After an arrest, the authorities must take the arrestee without “unnecessary delay” before a judge. (Ky. R. Crim. P. 3.02.) What constitutes an unnecessary delay depends on the facts of each case.

Although length of time is a factor in determining whether a delay was unnecessary, how the authorities used that time is the primary consideration. Consequently, confessions made by defendants during the time between arrest and initial appearance are typically admissible even if there was unnecessary delay, unless the delay is sufficiently related to the confession. (See Savage v. Com., 939 S.W.2d 325 (1997).)

Initial Appearance After Arrest

If the authorities make an arrest outside the county where the crime allegedly occurred, they may take the arrested person to a local judge. The judge determines whether the defendant should be released on personal recognizance or sets bail to secure the defendant’s appearance before the proper judge. (Ky. R. Crim. P. 3.02(1), (2); see Release on Your Own Recognizance, or "OR" and Bailing Out of Jail.) If the defendant cannot afford to post bail or bail isn't available for the offense, the judge will order him or her held in jail and taken to the proper county.

When officers make an arrest without a warrant, the arresting officer must file with the court a post-arrest complaint specifying the crime allegedly committed and the facts establishing probable cause. (Ky. R. Crim. P. 3.02(2).)

Initial Appearance Procedure

At the initial appearance, the judge will, at least in part:

  • inform the defendant of the charged crime
  • advise the defendant of certain rights, including the right to an attorney
  • appoint an attorney to the case if the defendant cannot afford to hire one
  • explain that the defendant isn’t required to make any statements, and that any statements may be used against him or her, and
  • release the defendant on personal recognizance or set a bail amount if the crime is bailable.

(Ky. R. Crim. P. 3.05.)

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The information in this article shouldn’t replace the advice of a licensed attorney. Anyone who has been arrested should immediately seek out the services of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, who can fully explain the applicable law.

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