Arkansas

This page provides a breakdown of all major developments and right to counsel law that the NCCRC knows for this state, sorted by subject area. Click on either tab below to see the aspect it describes.

Color Key Explanation
Categorical Right To Counsel There is a right to counsel without qualification for all indigent individuals in this type of case (except that the individual may be required to request counsel).
Discretionary Appointment Of Counsel Courts are permitted but not required to appoint counsel for any indigent individual in this type of case. A request may be required.
Right Or Appointment Is Qualified The established right to counsel or discretionary appointment of counsel is limited in some way, including: the only authority comes from a lower/intermediate court decision or a city government, not a high court or state legislature; a case has cast doubt on prior authority; a statute is ambiguous; or the right or discretionary appointment is not for all individuals or proceedings within that type of case.
No Such Proceeding This state has no law creating a judicial proceeding of this type.
None While this state does not provide for or require appointment of counsel with respect to the given subject area, it does have something (such as a report or bar policy) that supports the right to or appointment of counsel for this subject area.
Other Because the "Other subject areas” category can include developments from different subject areas that do not work the same way as each other, a blanket categorization of this category is not possible.

Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Accused Parents

Legislation

Arkansas parents entitled to counsel at emergency child welfare hearing

04/04/2017

A bill passed in 2017 requires parents to be appointed counsel at an emergency ex parte dependency hearing.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A right to counsel exists for indigent parents in dependency proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Abuse/Neglect/Dependency - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court must appoint an attorney ad litem for children in abuse/neglect proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Adult Protective Proceedings - Proposed Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to appointed counsel in proceedings under the Adult Maltreatment Custody Act to commit custody of a person to the state.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

The Arkansas Supreme Court found a state and federal constitutional due process right to counsel for involuntary custody due to mistreatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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All Basic Human Needs

Litigation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The high court has said courts have the inherent power to appoint counsel generally in civil cases in certain circumstances.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Bypass of Parental Input into Abortion - Minor

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A court must appoint counsel upon request to a minor seeking to obtain a waiver of the requirement of parental consent for an abortion.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Civil Contempt in Family Court

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There may be a right to representation by the public defender in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Civil Commitment - Subject of Petition

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

Counsel must be appointed at the outset of commitment proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Custody Disputes - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel for a child in certain circumstances during custody disputes.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Guardianship/Conservatorship of Adults - Ward

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is an arguable right to representation by the public defender in guardianship cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Litigation

Discretionary appointment of counsel

The Arkansas Supreme Court has approved the appointment of counsel in guardianship cases pursuant to inherent authority.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Housing - Discrimination

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint counsel to either side in a housing discrimination case, if indigent.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Incarceration for Fees/Fines (incomplete)

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There may be a right to representation by the public defender in civil contempt cases.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: yes

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Involuntary Medical Treatment

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel prior to being ordered into outpatient or inpatient treatment.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Sexually Dangerous Persons - Commitment

Legislation

No such proceeding

There is no procedure in the state for confinement of a sexually dangerous/violent person.

Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Children

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Discretionary appointment of counsel

A court may appoint an attorney-GAL for a child in a termination of parental rights proceeding.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Termination of Parental Rights (State) - Birth Parents

Legislation

Legislation (dead): termination of parental rights

01/09/2017

This bill would have removed the indigency requirement for a parent to have a right to counsel in termination of parental rights cases.

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Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

A statute requires appointment of counsel for indigent parents in termination proceedings.

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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Litigation

Discretionary appointment of counsel

Several Arkansas courts have said that due process only requires appointment of counsel on a case-by-case basis in termination cases.

Appointment of Counsel: discretionary Qualified: no

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Truancy - Petition Against Child

Legislation

Key_development Question_mark

Right to counsel

There is a right to counsel for children in Arkansas truancy proceedings (which are treated as "family in need of services").

Appointment of Counsel: categorical Qualified: no

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