Kentucky Legal Resources

Overview of the Kentucky Court System

The Kentucky judicial system includes four levels of courts.

The first level is the district courts, which handle criminal misdemeanors, felony probable cause hearings, cases involving domestic violence and abuse, juvenile matters, traffic violations, small claims involving $2,500 or less, and civil cases of $5,000 or less.

Circuit courts, making up the second level, handle larger cases. These include criminal felonies, civil lawsuits involving more than $5,000, land dispute title cases, and contested probate cases. The circuit courts also contain a family court division, which handles matters involving divorce, child custody, adoptions, visitations, and the like.

The next level is the Court of Appeals, which hears most appeals from the lower courts. The court does not, however, handle appeals in cases involving the death penalty or other criminal matters calling for imprisonment of 20 years or more.

Those cases go directly to the Kentucky Supreme Court, the fourth and highest level in the judicial system. The Supreme Court is Kentucky's court of last resort, hearing and ruling appeals from all lower courts.

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