Arkansas Sex Offenses and Why they are Different
In the state of Arkansas, sex offenses attract severe penalties that are not offset by long term incarceration time. Such offenses also come along with additional consequences including difficulty getting employed, inability to reside in certain areas, loss of immigration status, and long-term registration on the Arkansas Sex Offender Registry. Sex crimes in the state are different because they threaten public decency and morals. Such crimes are also handled differently by law enforcement agencies because of the potential risk of re-offense. As such, sex offenders are monitored under strict surveillance to ensure public safety. Arkansas Law charges sex crimes as felonies or misdemeanors depending on the severity of the offense and the degree of risk they pose to the public.
What is an Arkansas Sex Crime?
By Arkansas Laws, a sex crime is an offense arising as a result of violence during sexual engagements, lack of consent by one party to the sexual engagement, or inability of one party to legally consent to the sexual conduct. Sex crimes are covered under Title 5 of the Arkansas Code. Typically, persons charged for sex and sex-related offenses are guilty of felonies, and sometimes misdemeanors. Some common sex crime charges in Arkansas include:
- Sexual assault
- Statutory rape
- Sexual extortion
- Sexual indecency with a child
What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses in Arkansas
The different types of sex offenses in Arkansas are defined under the Arkansas Code. Each offense carries a unique definition and punishment. Here are some common sex crime charges in Arkansas, their severity, and sentencing.
Unlike some states in the US, rape is a legal term in Arkansas. Under Arkansas Code § 5–14–103, rape is defined as having sexual intercourse with a victim or causing someone to engage in sexual activity with another person in any of the following circumstances:
- By forcible compulsion that is, against the victim’s will through the use of force, threat, or intimidation
- Through the physical helplessness, mental defectiveness, or mental incapacity of the victim
- With a minor victim below the age of 14
- With a minor victim where the defendant is related to the victim by blood or affinity
Severity: Class Y felony
Sentence: Rape in Arkansas is punishable by confinement of between ten years and forty years. However, depending on the circumstances surrounding the rape, defendants may face life imprisonment (Ark. Code § 5–4–401). The minimum sentence for rape of a minor victim below the age of 14 is 25 years. On January 17, 2017, Arkansas State Legislature proposed to increase the sentencing provisions of defendants related to their victims by blood or affinity to a minimum of 20 years.
In simple terms, sexual assault includes a range of criminal acts that are sexual in nature such as unwanted kissing and touching, groping, rubbing, or forcing the victim to touch the defendant in sexual ways. Arkansas laws classified sexual assault into four degrees/categories as described below.
Sexual Assault in the First Degree
First-degree sexual assault in Arkansas occurs when a defendant:
- Engages in sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a minor victim who is not married to the defendant and the defendant assumes a position of authority over the victim. Position of authority can include but not limited to a defendant is contracted with or employed by:
- Any county or city jail
- A juvenile detention center where the victim is in custody
- A court, local law enforcement agency, or local government where the defendant is supervising the minor victim on probation or parole
- A school or school district where the victim attends
- Engages in sexual intercourse or sexual conduct with a victim who is less than 21 years and enrolled in a private or public school where the defendant is a principal, teacher, or a non-academic staff
Severity: Class A felony
Punishment: In Arkansas, first-degree sexual assault is punishable by 6–30 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
Sexual Assault in the Second Degree
In Arkansas, a defendant is guilty of sexual assault in the second degree if the defendant engages in sexual contact with a victim in any of the following conditions:
- By forcible compulsion
- With a victim who is legally incapable of giving consent because the victim is physically helpless, mentally incapacitated, or mentally defective
- With a victim that is less than 14 years of age and defendant is 18 or more years and not married to the victim
- With a minor and the defendant assumes a position of authority over the minor
- With a student who is less than 21 years old and enrolled in a K12 private or public school where the defendant is a teacher, principal, athletic coach, or counselor
Severity: Second degree sexual assault is a Class B or Class D felony depending on the circumstances of the incident.
Punsihment: The punishment for second-degree sexual assault in Arkansas depends on the age of the victim and defendant at the time of the offense. Typically, this crime is a Class B felony punishable by not less than 5–20 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. However, if the defendant is a minor and the victim is less than 14 years at the time of the incident, the defendant will be sentenced to not more than six years in prison and a fine of not more than $10,000.
Sexual Assault in the Third Degree
Under Ark. Code § 5–14–126, t hird-degree sexual assault occurs when an offender has sexual intercourse or deviates sexual activity with a victim and:
- The offender assumes a position of authority over the victim who is not the offender’s spouse
- The offender is a minor and the victim is less than 14 years and not the offender’s spouse
Severity: Class C felony (Ark. Code § 5–4–401)
Punishment: Sentencing of between 3 and 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000.
Sexual Assault in the Fourth Degree
Fourth-degree sexual assault in Arkansas occurs when a defendant has sexual intercourse, deviates sexual activity, or engages in sexual contact with a victim in any of the following circumstances.
- The defendant is 20 years or older and the victim is less than 16 years
- The defendant is working in a city or county jail/facility where the victim is resident
Severity: Class A misdemeanor
Punishment: fourth-degree sexual assault in Arkansas is punishable by up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fine.
In Arkansas, it is illegal for an adult (a person who is 18 years or older) to have sex with a minor (a person who is 14 years or less), even if the intercourse was consensual. This is known as statutory rape and guilty defendants are charged with class Y felony. By definition, statutory rape includes sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex between a minor victim who is 13 years or less and an offender who is more than three years older than the minor. Convicted defendants are sentenced to a minimum of 25 years in prison.
Enacted in 2017, the sexual extortion law in Arkansas prohibits a person from coercing another person into engaging in sexually explicit conduct for the purpose of producing/distributing or threatening to produce/distribute a video or audio recording of the victim in a nude or sexully explicit state. Sexual extortion in Arkansas is a class B felony punishable by five to twenty years imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.
Sex offender Levels of Classification in Arkansas
In accordance with federal law, Arkansas sex offenders are categorized into four levels depending on the severity of the offense and potential risk of re-offense.
Level 1 offenders are the least serious class of offenders. They pose a minimal risk of re-offense and have no prior history of sexual offense. They must physically check in with their local law enforcement every six months.
Level 2 offenders in Arkansas pose a moderate risk of re-offense. They have a prior history of sex offense and must physically check in with the local law enforcement once every six months.
Level 3 sex offenders a relatively high risk of re-offense. They are habitual offenders who have a history of repeat sex crimes.
Level 4 sex offenders in Arkansas pose the highest risk to the public. They include those convicted of violent sex crimes or acquitted on grounds of mental defect or disease. They are otherwise referred to as sexual predators. These sexually dangerous individuals are required to update their information with local law enforcement every 3 months.
How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in the Arkansas
Interested parties can locate sex offenders near a specific location using the Sex Offender Registry maintained by Arkansas Department of Public Safety. Search this database using the name of the offender or by city, county, or zip code of interest.
Arkansas Sex Offender Registry
The Arkansas Sex Offender Registry Program was enacted in 1994 to assist law enforcement agencies with registering and monitoring certain sex offenders living in the state. The registry is frequently updated to include all sexually motivated crimes such as offense against minors and sexually violent offenses. Typically, level 3 and level 4 sex offenders are subject to more strict registration rules. Registered offenders are mandated to report to the law enforcement within a time-period and also notify the officials when they change their addresses and contact information. Failure to comply with the registry is a class C felony in the state of Arkansas.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in Arkansas?
Arkansas sex offender restriction laws depend on the level of the offender and the potential risk of re-offense. Typically, level 1 and 2 sex offenders have no living restrictions. However, level 3 and 4 sex offenders are restricted from living within 2,000 feet of a school, public park, licensed day care, church, or youth center.