Guide to Kentucky Statuatory Law

Is robbery a felony or misdemeanor offense? At what age can you legally purchase alcohol? Can I carry a concealed weapon? These legal questions are best answered by turning to the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS). Often the answer to a particular legal question will be found in the statutes, not in case law.

Every year the Kentucky General Assembly meets and proposes bills (Prior to 2001 the legislature met every other year). If the bills pass they become law. These laws (like cases) are passed in chronological, not topical, order and published in the Kentucky Acts. Nobody wants to pick up a copy of the Kentucky Acts and read through each law in hope of finding the answer to her question. Our legislators agree! They charge the Legislative Research Commission with breaking the law into numerous chapters, each of which deals with a particular legal topic. These chapters are published in the Kentucky Revised Statutes.

Two companies publish versions of the Kentucky Revised Statutes, Lexis Law Publishing (Michie's Kentucky Revised Statutes) and Thompson West (Baldwin's Kentucky Revised Statutes). The text of the laws are the same in both sets and both are considered to be official copies. The main difference between the two is the annotations to cases, law reviews, attorney-general opinions and other sources which have cited the statute you are reading. The Law Library does not endorse one over the other; the choice is yours.

The Kentucky Revised Statutes are located on the first floor of the Law Library, range F-134 with another set shelved behind the circulation / reference desk.

A citation to a section of the KRS looks like this:

KRS citation

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The KRS is divided into chapters and sections. The spines of the KRS indicate which chapters are contained within a particular volume. Each chapter represents a specific legal topic, which is then broken down into numerous sub-topics.

  1. To find a Kentucky statute please use the KRS. Start by turning to the Index volume, found at the end of the set.
  2. Locate the word(s) and phrases associated with your legal question. e.g. if you were trying to find who may legally solemnize a marriage in Kentucky, you could look in the index under Marriage and the sub-heading Solemnization.
  3. Write down the citation to the section (in our example 402.060).
  4. Go to the volume of the KRS which has your chapter in it, and look up the relevant section number.
  5. Once you have found a section in the KRS you must update the statute by turning to the pocket part attached to the back cover of each KRS volume. Simply look for the same chapter and section number in the pocket part to see if the law has been changed.

Following each KRS section are annotations. This is a good place to find references to other Kentucky material dealing with the same legal issue. e.g. court cases (cases which interpret the statute), Attorney-General opinions, law review articles, etc.

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Internet

Kentucky Revised Statutes can now be obtained (free of charge) on the Internet through The Legislative Research Commission.

The Legislative Research Commission has also made Kentucky Bills available via the Internet.

Constitutions

The United States and Kentucky Constitutions can be found in the first volume of the KRS or on the Internet.