Transmitting an STD in Arkansas

In some states, a broad range of activities undertaken by people who have sexually transmittable diseases may result in criminal charges. Arkansas, however, criminalizes a very limited range of activity. Even if you have a sexually transmitted disease in Arkansas and transmit that disease to someone else, you have not necessarily committed a crime.

For more information about how different states treat the criminal transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, read Transmitting an STD: Criminal Laws & Penalties.

Arkansas' Definition of a Sexually Transmitted Disease

In Arkansas, the only sexually transmitted diseases addressed by state criminal laws are the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. The state has identified specific types of conduct that constitutes criminal acts if the person engaged in that conduct has HIV or AIDS. (Arkansas Revised Statutes Annotated section 5-14-123 and 20-15-903.)

Criminalized Conduct

There are three types of conduct that are criminalized under Arkansas law if a person has HIV.

Sexual relations

Anyone who tests HIV-positive or who has HIV or AIDS commits a crime in Arkansas if he or she engages in sexually penetrative acts with another person. The law defines sexually penetrative acts as any sexual actions that involving any bodily intrusion, no matter how slight, including acts such as cunnilingus, fellatio, and oral or anal intercourse. Anyone who engages in these activities commits a Class A felony in Arkansas.

Blood donations

Arkansas law also makes it a crime to transfer blood or blood products to someone else if you have HIV or AIDS. This law applies to blood donations as well as any injections or implantations of donated organs or any other means of transferring blood or blood products from an infected person to someone else. This crime is also punished as a Class A felony offense.

Failure to advise medical personnel

Anyone who has HIV in Arkansas must warn any physician or dentist before they receive any healthcare services. Failure to identify yourself to healthcare providers as being HIV positive is a Class A misdemeanor.

Possible Defenses

Defendants in a criminal case may have a number of legal defenses available to them, depending on the circumstances of each situation. The following defenses may or may not be available to a criminal defendant in Arkansas, while other defenses may also be available even though they are not listed here.

Consent

Even though engaging in intimate relations while you are HIV-positive is a crime in Arkansas, you are not guilty of this crime if you notify the other person of the presence of HIV prior to engaging in the sexual relations. You have committed an STD crime if you have HIV and notify the person onlyafter engaging in the sexual activity.

Knowledge

Arkansas law requires that you must be aware that you are infected with AIDS or HIV in order to be convicted of an STD crime. For example, if you receive healthcare services from a dentist and only later learned that you are infected with HIV, you are not guilty of a crime because you were not aware of your HIV status when you received the dental care and could not warn the dentist.

Punishments

The criminal transmission of HIV or AIDS in Arkansas can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor offense, depending on circumstances. Anyone convicted of an STD crime in the state faces the possibility of fines, jail, prison, and other penalties.

  • Fine. If you are convicted of a Class A felony in Arkansas you face a maximum fine of $15,000. For a Class A misdemeanor conviction you face up to $2,500 in fines.
  • Incarceration. If you are convicted of a Class A felony crime in Arkansas you face a state prison sentence of no less than six years and no more than 30 years. The maximum for a Class A misdemeanor conviction is one year in jail.
  • Probation. Probation may or may not be a possible sentence depending on the circumstances of the case. If you are sentenced to probation you have to serve your sentence outside jail or prison environment. This means that even though you are not in jail you are still under significant restrictions, and any violations of those restrictions can result in your having to serve in incarceration sentence. Probation usually lasts at least 12 months. While on probation you will have to comply with various conditions, such as not committing other crimes, paying all fines and court costs, reporting to a probation officer, as well as other conditions the court believes appropriate.
  • Restitution. You don’t need to actually infect someone with HIV or AIDS to be convicted of a crime in Arkansas, but if your actions lead to someone else suffering injury or property loss, the court will order you to pay restitution in addition to any fines or jail time. Restitution payments are made to the victim to compensate him or her for any loss, and you must pay them as a condition of any probation sentence.

Speak With an Attorney in Your Area

Anyone who has HIV or AIDS and has engaged in any potentially criminal conduct in Arkansas needs to consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer immediately. If you are charged with the criminal transmission of an STD, you face significant penalties. Local attorneys who have experience with local criminal courts and who are familiar with area prosecutors, judges, and investigators are the only people capable of giving you legal advice about your situation. Even if you have not yet been charged and have only been approached by investigators, you need to consult an attorney right away. Protecting your rights in the criminal justice process is essential, and only an experienced lawyer can advise you how to do that.

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