Legal Interpreting Guidelines in Arkansas

Legal Language Services ranks Arkansas as a state with moderately regulated legal interpreting requirements.

Your legal interpreter must have the appropriate level of certification that meets your language needs. This is especially true if you require a court interpreter.

This does not mean, however, that you should hire a certified interpreter for every situation.

Whether or not an interpreter is certified — let alone the level of certification — will have an effect on how much you are charged for legal interpreting services.

Do You Need a Certified Interpreter?

Due to the added cost of certified professionals, it may not be a sound strategy to use certified legal interpreters if certification is not legally required for your proceeding. In fact, some situations may not benefit from certified interpreters. In particular, where subject matter expertise and/or special skills are required, certification may be a secondary consideration in securing a competent interpreter.

As previously noted, non-certified legal interpreters can provide professional interpreting services at a more affordable price. As in other states, a certified interpreter in Arkansas will command a higher fee for legal interpreting services. Prices will be affected based on the level of certification.

Legal Language can help you determine the best interpreter, certified or otherwise, for your legal interpreting needs in Arkansas.

Requirements for Certified Interpreters in Arkansas

With the exception of misdemeanor and felony arraignments, certified interpreters are required in Arkansas courts.

Please be aware that some counties in Arkansas may have specific legal interpreting regulations in addition to the statewide requirements.

Arkansas state authorities periodically offer exams, both written and oral, for certification based on the guidelines of the Consortium for State Court Interpreter Certification.

There are certified interpreters on the Arkansas registry in the following languages:

  • Arabic
  • Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian
  • French
  • Hmong
  • Khmer
  • Korean
  • Laotian
  • Mandarin
  • Marshallese
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Tagalog
  • Vietnamese

Classification of Interpreters in Arkansas

The Arkansas Judicial Department defines legal interpreters in the following three ways:

  • Certified Interpreter: An interpreter who has earned a passing score on the Basic Written Language Exam and a minimum score of 70 percent on the Oral Proficiency Exam for Certification, completed orientation and training, and agreed to adhere to the Arkansas Code of Professional Responsibility.
  • Non-Certified Interpreter/Candidate: An interpreter who has completed all the steps toward becoming an interpreter and received a minimum score of 60 percent on the Oral Proficiency Exam for Certification. Candidates may interpret for short, non-evidentiary hearings only.
  • Registered Interpreter: An interpreter who has completed all the steps toward becoming an interpreter except for the Oral Proficiency Exam for Certification.

Common Languages Spoken in Arkansas

According to a recent American Community Survey, approximately 6.61% of the Arkansas population speaks a language other than English.

What’s more, almost 90% of the non-English speaking population in Arkansas speaks one of the following 10 languages:

Common Languages Spoken in Arkansas

  • Spanish
  • German
  • French
  • Vietnamese
  • Laotian
  • Tagalog
  • Hmong
  • Other Pacific Island languages
  • Chinese*
  • Arabic
Little Rock skyline - Arkansas court interpreting guidelines

Other languages spoken in Arkansas include Korean, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Urdu, Portuguese, Telugu, Dutch, Romanian, Tamil, Cherokee, Kru/Ibo/Yoruba, Pennsylvania Dutch, Persian, Russian, Malayalam, Polish and Turkish.

*This table was created based on respondents’ written answers, the majority of whom wrote “Chinese” while others specified “Cantonese” or “Mandarin.”

Judicial Districts in Arkansas

In addition to the statewide requirements, some counties in Arkansas may have additional legal interpreting regulations.

There are 28 judicial districts in Arkansas that encompass 75 counties:

Call Legal Language Services at 1-800-788-0450 to find Arkansas interpreters who meet state interpreting rules for courtroom trials, hearings, depositions, arbitrations and other legal proceedings.

  • 1st Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, St. Francis, Woodruff
  • 2nd Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Clay, Craighead, Crittenden, Greene, Mississippi, Poinsett
  • 3rd Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Jackson, Lawrence, Randolph, Sharp
  • 4th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Madison, Washington
  • 5th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Franklin, Johnson, Pope
  • 6th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Perry, Pulaski
  • 7th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Grant, Hot Spring
  • 8th North Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Hempstead, Nevada
  • 8th South Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Lafayette, Miller
  • 9th East Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Clark
  • 9th West Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Howard, Little River, Pike, Sevier
  • 10th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, Drew
  • 11th West Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Jefferson, Lincoln
  • 11th East Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Arkansas
  • 12th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Sebastian
  • 13th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Calhoun, Cleveland, Columbia, Dallas, Ouachita, Union
  • 14th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Baxter, Boone, Marion, Newton
  • 15th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Conway, Logan, Scott, Yell
  • 16th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Cleburne, Fulton, Independence, Izard, Stone
  • 17th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Prairie, White
  • 18th East Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Garland
  • 18th West Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Montgomery, Polk
  • 19th East Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Carroll
  • 19th West Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Benton
  • 20th Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Faulkner, Searcy, Van Buren
  • 21st Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Crawford
  • 22nd Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Saline
  • 23rd Judicial District of Arkansas
    Counties: Lonoke

Please Note

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The information about legal interpreting guidelines in Arkansas is believed to be accurate at the time of posting; however, Legal Language Services is not responsible for any errors or omissions.