Pretrial Release | Kentucky


State legislatures consider and enact laws that address all aspects of pretrial policy, including citations, release eligibility, conditions of release, commercial bail bonding, victims’ rights and diversion. These legislative policies have an important role in providing fair, efficient and safe practices carried out by law enforcement and the courts.

Below is a synopsis of this state’s pretrial release laws as of March 2013 and any relevant legislative reports or audits. Recent enactments modifying these provisions can be found in NCSL’s pretrial enactments database.


Citation in Lieu of Arrest

Issuing a citation is presumptive for misdemeanors and is allowed for misdemeanor offenses of driving under the influence, assault, sex crimes, crimes involving firearms or weapons, 4th degree assault in a hospital room, 3rd degree criminal trespass, harassment or aggravated driving under the influence.  Citations cannot be issued for violations of a protective order. Citations can be issued prior to arrest by peace officers. (§ 431.015)

Pretrial Release Eligibility

State constitution provides a presumption of pretrial release. Pretrial release can be denied for capital offenses. (Const. § 16)

Guidance for Setting Release Conditions

State statute provides a presumption of pretrial release on personal recognizance or unsecured appearance bond. Courts are instructed to use a risk assessment when determining release of all defendants. (§ 431.520; § 431.066(a))

Pretrial Release Conditions

Law allows release on personal recognizance or an unsecured appearance bond. Common conditions of release include: cash deposit, property bond, other secured bond, supervision and additional requirements. Electronic monitoring is authorized for any defendant eligible for pretrial release. A $500 - $5,000 full cash bond or a secured bond in an amount determined by the court is required for driving under the influence, driving under the influence resulting in injury or property damage, and for driving under the influence resulting in serious injury or death when the defendant is not a resident of the state. (§ 431.050 & § 431.520)

Pretrial Detention

When a defendant is unable to meet the pretrial release conditions, a judicial review is required after 24 hours in custody. (§ 431.520)

Bail Bond Agent Licensure

Commercial bondsmen are prohibited. (§ 431.510)

Victims’ Rights and Protections

Victims have the right to notification of and be consulted about the pretrial release hearing.  Victims also have a right to notification of pretrial release and the conditions of release.  Electronic monitoring can be ordered for sex offenses. (§ 421.500(5); § 431.064; § 421.500(6); § 431.520(5))

Pretrial Diversion

Substance abuse diversion programs are authorized, as well as mental health problem-solving courts in specific local governments. (§ 533.250; HMHC § 1-24; ULCR § 1-24)


Full text of statutes can be retrieved using NCSL’s State Legislatures Internet Links database or learn more about NCSL’s Criminal Justice Program.