John Wesley Hall

Little Rock Criminal Law Blog

Numerous arrests and indictments in Arkansas drug rings

According to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, law enforcement authorities arrested 15 people on Oct. 23 after 49 indictments were handed down for allegations of participation in major drug rings in the state. Three large drug rings were targeted by undercover officers, including the Monterrio Fuller, Desmond Kelley, and Clifton Williams drug trafficking organizations.

The sting operation was started in June 2018 by agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Administration from their field offices in Little Rock. The law enforcement officers worked undercover within the drug trafficking organizations to dismantle the major traffickers of fentanyl in the state.

U.S. House passes federal bill banning animal cruelty

On Oct. 22, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill that would make it a federal crime to commit certain acts of animal cruelty in Arkansas and around the country. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., and Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla.

The Animal Crush Video Prohibition Act of 2010 criminalized making and distributing animal crush videos. The new Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act, or PACT, expands on that law by making it illegal for any individual to knowingly participate in any abusive behavior toward animals, including crushing, drowning, burning, impaling or suffocating, if the animals or abuse in any way involve interstate or foreign commerce. If passed, the law would not conflict with local animal cruelty laws.

Sex offender registry and notification levels

Arkansas, like most other states, has a program in place that requires defendants convicted of some sexual offenses to register with law enforcement authorities as a sexual offender. There are many facets to this program and the nature of a person's registration and what is involved may vary based, at least in part, on the nature of the offense for which they were convicted. In some cases, even a person who is acquitted of a sex crime offense may still be required to register as a sex offender. 

One of the elements of the sex offender registry program is the ability of people in the general public to look up individual registrants. The Arkansas Crime Information Center indicates that a search may be conducted by a person's name, county, city, zip code or even a specific street address. It is not known how many searches take place, but this remains a common part of most registry programs.

What should you know about drug trafficking?

You may know that drug trafficking is illegal in Arkansas. However, you may not realize that this crime may be subject to both state and federal laws and that the penalty may be different depending on the kind of substance you sell.

FindLaw says that depending on the situation, you may face either state and federal charges for drug trafficking. If you sell drugs within Arkansas, you usually only face state charges. If you sell drugs across state lines, however, then you are generally subject to federal law. One key difference between state and federal charges is that under state law, you may face charges for selling smaller amounts of a substance. Additionally, a prison sentence may be higher under federal law.

How is stalking handled as a crime in Arkansas?

It can be difficult for some people to let go of a relationship. For others, their attraction to a person may lead to fantasizing that a relationship exists when it does not, which may in turn lead to behavior that can qualify as stalking. It is important for you and other Arkansas residents to understand stalking laws in the state before you are accused of a crime.

Which behaviors constitute stalking, you may wonder? According to FindLaw, stalking may be comprised of numerous behaviors that can put the target in fear for his or her safety or life. The behaviors may also annoy, intimidate or make the other person feel uncomfortable, especially if the person has requested more than once that the behavior stop. Some examples of stalking may include the following:

  • Being unable to move on after a relationship has ended and repeatedly calling or following the other person
  • Learning where the person lives and following him or her home from work
  • Manipulating or destroying property belonging to the other person
  • Taking photographs of the other person without permission
  • Following the other person on social media and sending unwanted texts and private messages

15 people arrested in Little Rock-based drug trafficking bust

A federal investigation dubbed Operation Mad Hatter led to the arrest of 15 individuals authorities say are tied to a central Arkansas drug trafficking organization. According to a news report, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas said a grand jury indicted 19 individuals in connection with the case in August of 2019.

Operation Mad Hatter has been going on since 2018, with the first arrests coming in February of 2019. In all, the operation led to the arrest of 15 individuals, with four additional defendants facing charges. Authorities also seized a significant amount of drugs, money and weapons, portraying the group as an organized distribution ring.

Common types of white collar crime

White collar crime is common throughout the country and Arkansas, and there are many ways that an individual or organization can scam people out of money. Due to the seriousness of these crimes and the devastation they can bring to companies and families, the federal government spends a lot of time and effort to investigate them, and the penalties can be severe.

According to King University, the annual cost related to white collar crime in the United States is around $300 billion, and yet many people still do not understand exactly what constitutes a white collar crime. In general, this type of crime is nonviolent, and the perpetrators commit it with the goal of obtaining, or not losing, money, services or property in order to have a business or personal advantage. Those who commit these crimes may be individuals or companies.  As a result of their actions, victims can include families, businesses, taxpayers and investors.

What is tax evasion?

No one enjoys paying income taxes, but if you are like most Arkansas residents, your fear of what the IRS could do to you if you fail to do so far outweighs your aversion to computing your taxes, filing your tax return and sending in your check.

Findlaw agrees that failing to file your tax return does indeed constitute tax evasion. Unfortunately, however, the IRS can also accuse you of tax evasion if you do any one of the following:

  • File a fraudulent tax return
  • Deliberately fail to report the full amount of income you earned during the year
  • Deliberately take deductions you know you are not entitled to
  • Deliberately hide or destroy your written or electronic financial records so as to avoid leaving a paper trail
  • Deliberately transfer ownership of your property to another so as to avoid claiming the income that the property generates

Can you rescind a plea bargain?

If you face federal white collar crime charges in Arkansas, the prosecutor likely will offer you a plea agreement. As Forbes reports, upwards of 90% of federal defendants enter into a plea bargain.

Despite the fact that a plea bargain may well represent the best way to dispose of your case, however, you need to realize that a plea bargain can present you with substantial negatives such as the following:

  • You give up your constitutional right to a trial by a jury of your peers.
  • You will have to verbally plead guilty to the charges against you in open court.
  • You normally give up the right to appeal your conviction.
  • You normally cannot rescind your plea bargain.
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