Non-Natives Can Be Prosecuted in Tribal Courts
Video Transcribed: More non-Natives can now be prosecuted in tribal courts. I’m Oklahoma Lawyer James Wirth, we’re talking about the reauthorization of VAWA, and how that applies to expanding tribal jurisdiction in Oklahoma.
First off, under McGirt and its progeny, most of Northeast Oklahoma is Indian land where the state government lacks jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed by or against Indians.
Now, if it’s a crime committed by a non-Indian against an Indian, the tribe also does not have jurisdiction, with one exception, and that is the authorizations in VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act. That was originally passed in 1994. It has been updated in 2005, 2013, and now in 2022.
Prior to this most recent reauthorization, it did allow tribes to prosecute non-Natives for domestic violence. It has since been expanded in this new version for additional crimes as well, such as crimes against children, child abuse, sexual violence, sex trafficking, and assaults on tribal police officers.
In those circumstances, under VAWA the tribes now have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Natives. Non-Natives can be prosecuted in tribal courts under those circumstances. That has very recently changed. That wasn’t the case before.
If you’ve got any questions about that or dealing with some of those scenarios, you’re going to want to talk to an attorney privately, confidentially about that. To schedule that with somebody in my office you can go online to makelaweasy.com.