- The sharing of explicit materials amongst adults is permitted in Arkansas.
- Possessing or sharing explicit videos or images of a minor constitutes child porn.
- Juvenile offenders may be tried as adults.
- Convicted felony offenders must register in the state’s sex offender registry.
Arkansas sexting laws: Summary.
In practice what the statement above means is it is legal for consenting adults to share sexual content, however, minor to minor, or adult to minor exchange of sexual content is prohibited and punishable. The state defines sexually explicit material as:
- Digital material that shows female or male genitals, pubic area, or buttocks with, quote “less than an opaque covering.”
- Any depiction of covered male genital in a turgid state
- Depiction of prohibited acts and any condition of nudity
Arkansas’s definition of sexting is “the distribution of sexually explicit digital material.”
Note: solicitation is an affirmative defense.
According to state law, if you did not solicit explicit images from a minor, you may use that as a defense. Also, what you do after you get the image or video may affect the court’s verdict. If you delete the videos or images upon receipt, then you have committed no crime. But if you subsequently distribute, present, transmit, post, print, disseminate, solicit, or exchange explicit photos of a minor or adult without consent, you are guilty of possession and distribution of child porn, or in the latter scenario guilty of harassment and or soliciting a minor.
Arkansas sexting laws for minors and teens
A first conviction for distributing, possessing, or viewing an image, computer file, or video that depicts a minor or anyone below 18 is a class C felony in Arkansas. For repeat offenders, the crime escalates to a class B felony.
That is according to ARK. Code (2019) 5-27-601-602. “Arkansas child porn laws.”
Arkansas child exploitation laws
Persuading or enticing a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct for creating a picture or video is a class B felony in Arkansas. Repeat offenders may face Class A felony charges. Furthermore, any adult that knowingly distributes, views, exchanges, or possesses any image or video depicting a child is guilty of a class C felony. A second or third offense is a class B felony.
What if the offender is a minor?
Act 304 “unlawful distribution of sexual images” requires that any minor that pleads guilty, or no contest, to serve at least eight hours of community service. This is a class A misdemeanour -meaning the court may also order a $2500 fine or one year in confinement if the case stays in juvenile court.
Note: the prosecutor may choose to take the case to adult court. Unlike juvenile courts, adult courts do not practice the same level of discretion in sentencing. Consequently, any teen tried as an adult facing felony child porn or exploitation crimes may have to register in the state’s sex offender registry. The adult penalties include jail time, registration into the sex offender registry, and a fine.
What if the offender is 18?
According to Arkansas laws, an 18-year-old is an adult, meaning the offender will be tried in adult court.
Arkansas sexting laws: What you need to remember
It is a criminal offense to do any of the following if a minor is involved:
- Seducing, coercing, soliciting, or enticing a minor to produce sexually explicit material.
- With intent, soliciting, persuading, coercing, or seducing a minor via electronic means or otherwise to meet and engage in sexually explicit conduct, is a crime.
- Federal law makes it illegal to send and receive sexually explicit images, videos, or media depicting a minor engaged in a sexual act or nude.
- All materials, digital or physical containing child porn are prohibited on the federal level.
- Federal law prohibits the seduction or enticement of minors to take part in sexually explicit conduct.
- If the parent consents to child sexual exploitation, the caregiver is also guilty -and may face child porn or child exploitation charges.
- Any website or a homeowner who sees and does not report child porn on his property may face charges.
What are the penalties for sexting in Arkansas?
- Enticing or persuading a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct with intention of creating a video or image, is a class B felony, punishable by a $15000 fine and a prison sentence of five to twenty years. Repeating the crime is a class A felony punishable by six to thirty years imprisonment and a $15000 fine.
- A class C felony happens when anyone knowingly sells, manufactures, provides, trades, mails, delivers, disseminates, or distributes, any media depicting a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct. The crime is punishable by three to ten years imprisonment and a $10000 fine.
In child porn cases, the prosecution must prove
- The accused possessed or received child porn.
- You had intent, knowledge, ability, or control over the image or video.
Registration in Arkansas sex offender registry
Adult offenders and minors tried as adults must register into the Arkansas sex offender registry. That is according to Arkansas Code Annotated 12-12 901 Habitual Child Sex Offender Registration act. The act also requires:
- All offenders convicted of sex offenses against minors must register.
- Any offender on probation, incarcerated, serving parole, or community supervision must register.
- If the offender moves to another state or authority, the individual must register with local law enforcement.
If you qualify, failure to register in the Arkansas Sex Offender registry is a class C felony.
What constitutes harassment in Arkansas?
If you are an adult receiving unsolicited texts or videos, you should know that it is within your rights to take civil action against the offender. Civil Rights Act Title VII says that any unwelcome behavior that creates intimidation or hostile workplace, interferes with performance, or disrupts an individual’s employment is a violation of that individual’s civil rights.
If your civil rights have been violated, for example, if someone at work is making unwelcome sexual advances, requesting sexual favors, makes remarks about your sex, you may file a harassment suit against that individual.
Is phone harassment a federal crime?
Yes. If an offender harasses or stalks a victim via the internet, activities that cross state lines, or US Mail, the individual may face federal harassment charges. Remember, Arkansas defines harassment as quote “any repeated conduct, words, or actions directed at an individual to annoy, alarm or distress that person.”
Distributing sexual images
Arkansas Code 5-26-314 makes it illegal to distribute sexually explicit images with the intent to abuse, frighten, harass, or intimidate. That means if someone is sending you unwanted texts or pictures, you may report the issue or take civil action.
What to remember:
- It is a crime to anonymously call, email, or message anyone in the state in a manner that is likely to cause alarm, annoy or harass.
- (repeat calls) Making someone else’s phone ring repeatedly without a purpose of legitimate communication is prohibited.
- Threatening, by phone or in writing, on social media, text, email, or another internet service is unlawful.
Harassment by phone/Harassing communications is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine.
What must the prosecution prove?
- An offender pursued a course of action.
- The action amounted to harassment.
- The offender ought to have known that the action amounted to harassment.
Revenge porn and Arkansas sexting laws
In Arkansas, creating self-generated indecent images is legal if you are over 18. What is illegal is anyone sharing nude photos of someone else without consent. For example, if a former boyfriend shares a sexually explicit image of you on the internet or sends it to friends and family. The crime committed is Revenge Porn or Nonconsensual Porn.
ARS Code Title 5 Criminal Offences 5-26-314 “Unlawful Distribution of sexual images or recordings,” reads in part, quote “a person commits the offense of unlawful distribution of sexual images if, being eighteen years of age or older, with the purpose to harass, frighten, intimidate, threaten, or abuse another person, the actor distributes an image, picture, video, or voice or audio recording of the other person to a third party by any means if the image, video, voice or audio recording.”
One. the person depicted in the media file is nude. Two. The depicted person is a family member or someone the offender was in a relationship with.
What if you had consent?
Having consent to take photos is not a defense for revenge porn in Arkansas. Furthermore, unlawful distribution of videos, photos, or recordings -taken when the victim has a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy is a class A misdemeanor.
As mentioned, a class A misdemeanor is punishable by a $25000 fine and up to one year in jail. A person who hacks or steals images is just as guilty as someone who secretly takes and distributes explicit images.
What must the prosecutor prove?
- The victim is identifiable via face, tattoos, clothing, birthmarks, or identifiable background items.
- The offender had a video or image of the intimate body parts of the victim (breasts and genitalia).
What about video voyeurism and upskirt photos?
Secretly Videotaping, recording, or photographing another person in public, inside a private residence, at school, or anywhere is a class D Video Voyeurism Felony in Arkansas. The crime escalates to a class B misdemeanor if the offender uses a disguised or concealed recording device.
What if you put it on the internet?
Under Arkansas Video Voyeurism laws (Ark. Code Ann. 5-16-101), posting sexually explicit secretly taken photos or videos on the internet is a class A Misdemeanor.
What to remember:
- Any sexually explicit photo, or if the video was taken in secret -is a class D felony.
- Knowingly using a concealed camcorder or other recording device is a class B misdemeanor.
- Anyone who shares secretly recorded sexually explicit pictures or videos may face a class A misdemeanor charge.
What must the prosecutor prove?
- a crime was committed with the aid of an imaging device.
- The offender intentionally used the imaging device to secretly photograph or record someone who has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
- The Accused actions met all the elements of ARK. Code Ann. 5-16-101.
Arkansas sexting laws: how does it all come together?
The facts of the case will determine if the offender faces harassment, child porn, voyeur, or revenge porn charges. We recommend consulting with an experienced defense attorney near you because sexting, child porn, and revenge porn are serious charges and are very public. The penalties range from jail/prison time to registration into the Arkansas sex offender registry and a fine.
Whether you are defending yourself against charges, or the victim, we recommend contacting a lawyer near you.
Other Arkansas Laws