Tulsa Attorney BlogMcGirt: Can Tribes Prosecute Non-Indians?

Muskogee Creek Nation Was Never Disestablished

Video Transcribed: Can tribes prosecute non-Indians? I’m Tulsa attorney James Wirth and this is another video dealing with the consequences of the McGirt decision. So, do tribes have the authority to charge non-Indians for crimes that are allegedly occurred in their tribal jurisdiction? And the answer generally is no.

So as we know, based on the McGirt v Oklahoma decision on July 9th of 2020, the Muskogee Creek Nation was never disestablished. So, about 750,000 people residing in Tulsa and some of the surrounding counties, and are now suddenly residing on the Muskogee Creek Nation reservation, and to some extent were subject to the jurisdiction thereof. But what is that extent? And for a criminal prosecution, they can not prosecute non-natives, except if it’s a crime of domestic violence.

So, the Violence Against Women Act that became federal law in 1994, it added the ability for tribes to prosecute certain offenses even against non-natives. And those crimes are domestic violence, dating violence, violation of protective orders, where one of the three things occurs.

They reside in Indian country. Well, many of us in Northeast Oklahoma now reside in Indian country, or you’re employed in Indian country. Also, many of us Northeast Oklahoma now, or you’re a spouse, intimate partner or dating partner is a member of a tribe or is residing in Indian country.

So, for domestic violence offenses, yes, tribes can prosecute non-tribal members, can prosecute non-Indians, but for all other offenses that don’t fit into the Violence Against Women’s Act of 1994, the tribe has no authority to prosecute those.

Those have to be prosecuted in state court or in federal court, depending on the circumstances of the victim. If you’ve got questions about specific circumstances, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney about it, talk to somebody in my office by going to makelaweasy.com.

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