The Criminal Department of the Attorney General’s Office is responsible for representing Arkansas in both state and federal court to uphold valid convictions imposed by Arkansas judges and juries. The Department works diligently and aggressively to protect Arkansas citizens by keeping criminals lawfully in prison and off our streets.
In a further effort to protect Arkansas citizens, the Criminal Department strives to strengthen criminal laws by helping shape legislation based upon lessons learned in the courtroom. For instance, the Department in 2010 argued a troubling case in which a Level 4 sex offender was permitted to work as a carpenter in a day care center when children were present because he was not hired to “work or interact primarily and directly with” the children, as the law prohibited. The Criminal Department helped draft legislation to close that loophole and make it unlawful for sex offenders to accept work as an independent contractor, or otherwise, at a privately owned daycare facility when children are present. In addition, the Criminal Department notifies victims of crime of the status of cases being handled by the Attorney General’s Office. Arkansas utilizes the automated VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) system to inform victims of crime about the cases and the defendants in those actions..
The Criminal Department represents the State of Arkansas in appeals filed by criminals in the Arkansas Court of Appeals, the Arkansas Supreme Court, and the United State Supreme Court. Defendants may appeal convictions in Arkansas circuit courts related to a variety of claims. The Criminal Department assumes the case from the local prosecutor and represents the interests of the State in the entire appellate process. After the state appellate process is complete, many prisoners may further their appeals through federal courts. The Criminal Department also represents the State in those venues. In 2012, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel argued on behalf of Arkansans before the U.S. Supreme Court in Blueford v. Arkansas, a case in which the State prevailed by a 6-3 decision. A team of attorneys from the Criminal Department worked to present to the Court the State’s argument to uphold a lower court decision that a murder defendant could be retried following a mistrial without violating the Constitutional protections against double jeopardy.
The Criminal Department’s attorneys and support staff work every day to protect and respond to the concerns of Arkansans.