Arkansas uses three classifications of misdemeanors—Class A, B, and C misdemeanors. Misdemeanors can mean jail time and fines. This article will review penalties and sentencing options for misdemeanor convictions in Arkansas.
Misdemeanors in Arkansas may be designated as Class A, B, or C. Some misdemeanors are unclassified. For unclassified crimes, the criminal statute will set the sentence. (Ark. Code §§ 5-4-201, 5-4-401 (2023).)
Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanor in Arkansas, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Examples of class A misdemeanors include:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-13-203, 5-27-610, 5-36-108, 5-53-110, 5-60-123, 5-71-201, 5-71-210 (2023).)
A conviction for a class B misdemeanor can result in a jail term of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $1,000. Examples of class B misdemeanors include:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-13-203, 5-38-204, 5-38-303, 5-60-103, 5-70-102, 5-71-217 (2023).)
Class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors in Arkansas, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Examples of class C misdemeanors include:
(Ark. Code §§ 5-13-207, 5-39-304, 5-67-107, 5-71-212, 5-71-205, 5-71-206 (2023).)
Arkansas law permits sentencing enhancements or mandatory penalties for certain misdemeanors involving protected classes of victims or increased risk of harm.
Additional jail time. For example, any person who purposely commits a crime against a current or former law enforcement officer or first responder will face an additional jail term. If the crime was a class A misdemeanor, the judge can add up to a year of jail time to the sentence.
Mandatory sentences. Other misdemeanor crimes may have mandatory minimum jail sentences or fines. Rioting, for instance, carries a minimum 30-day jail sentence and mandatory restitution. A person who injures a sports referee faces a minimum $2,500 fine.
Enhanced to a felony. Some misdemeanors carry felony penalties if the defendant has prior convictions, targets vulnerable victims, or causes increased harm. A second or subsequent swatting offense goes up to the class D felony, as does a third conviction for class A misdemeanor criminal trespass. Domestic battering of a pregnant woman increases a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony. Third-degree battery also increases from a misdemeanor to a class D felony if the defendant causes serious bodily harm, batters a victim younger than 12 or older than 60, or harms a teacher or school employee.
(Ark. Code §§ 5-4-704, 5-4-705, 5-13-202, 5-13-209, 5-39-304 (2023).)
Judges have several sentencing options available for misdemeanor convictions, including jail time, fines, and restitution.
A court can also suspend all or part of a jail sentence and place a defendant on probation. Conditions of probation can include up to 30 days of jail time, court-ordered treatment or supervision, restrictions on firearm possessions, no-contact orders, job requirements, and even getting a high school diploma.
(Ark. Code §§ 5-4-303, 5-4-801 (2023).)
Most crimes have a time limit (called a statute of limitations) by which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case thrown out. In Arkansas, the state typically has one year from the date a misdemeanor is committed to begin criminal prosecution. (Ark. Code § 5-1-109 (2023).)
Any criminal conviction can have serious and lasting consequences. If you are charged with any crime, you should talk to a local criminal defense attorney in Arkansas. An experienced attorney can tell you what to expect in court and how best to protect your rights and defend your case.