Age of consent is the legal age in which a person can consent to sexual intercourse. Any person under the age of consent is deemed to be mentally incapable of consenting to sex. Thus, if an adult has sex with a minor below the age of consent, the adult may be charged with statutory rape.
In Arkansas, a person must be at least 16 years old in order to consent to sex. Generally, when both parties are over 16 years of age, there will be no age-related legal issues concerning the validity of the consent between them.
Under the Age of Consent
Legal issues arise when a person is under the age of consent. Like many other states, when one or both of the partners are under the age of consent, the law places more importance on the age difference between them.
In many cases, a person between the ages of 14 and 16 can consent to sex with a person who is no more than 3 years older.
However, if the offender is more than 20 years old, and the victim is under 16, the punishment is far harsher than it would be otherwise.
In the past, homosexual activity is illegal for persons of any age. However, in 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled that such laws, as applied to consenting adults in private settings, are unconstitutional. Hence, it is not certain what the age of consent for such sodomy is in Arkansas.
Arkansas courts have two age limits that they might use to determine the age of consent for homosexual conduct. They may possibly default to the age of consent for heterosexual conduct, which is 16. However, because the state clearly frowns on homosexual conduct, it is also possible that they may try to limit it by imposing a higher age of consent, such as 18. Until there is case precedent or state legislature on such issue, we do not know the definite age of consent for homosexual activity.
Consulting an Attorney
If you find yourself in the situation where you might have engaged in inappropriate conduct with a person below the age of consent, then you should consult a criminal law lawyer. He can assist you and help you determine whether you have any valid defenses to your case. Moreover, he can speak on your behalf and lower your punishment, if the Arkansas legal system does punish you.