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