Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta Sparks Interest in Concurrent Jurisdictions
Video Transcribed: What is concurrent jurisdiction in the State of Oklahoma? I’m James Wirth. I am a lawyer in Tulsa, Oklahoma and that’s the question before us.
We’ve been hearing a lot about concurrent jurisdictions since the United States Supreme Court decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta. In that case, the United States Supreme Court determined that the State of Oklahoma, as well as the federal prosecutors, have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in Indian Country.
So what does it mean to have concurrent jurisdiction? Well, a lot of times when a court has jurisdiction, by taking and having that jurisdiction out of the law, it takes it away from other courts. So when that court has jurisdiction, other courts do not have jurisdiction. When it’s concurrent jurisdiction, that means two or more courts have jurisdiction over the same thing at the same time.
So that means that somebody could be prosecuted in state court and they could be prosecuted also in federal court. And that happens in a lot of different circumstances. But now we know that it can happen related to the specific circumstances in Castro-Huerta, where it’s a non-native is charged with a crime against an Indian in Indian Country. Both the state and the feds can prosecute that.
Not only is it one or the other, meaning that either could prosecute, but actually both could separately prosecute that. There have been separate decisions that have determined the separate sovereigns doctrine applies to state and federal as well as tribes and federal, which is an interesting decision. But that means that the state could prosecute it and they could be sentenced in state court.
The Feds could prosecute it, and be sentenced in federal court. And they could be convicted in both courts for the same crime if there’s concurrent jurisdiction. And it would not violate double jeopardy because they are separate sovereigns. That’s what the separate sovereign doctrine says. But as far as the definition of concurrent jurisdiction, just means one or more court has the jurisdiction to do something. They can each do that separately.
They’re not dependent on one another. And if one prosecutes, that does not take the jurisdiction from the other. They both can do it concurrently.
So if you’ve got any questions about a legal matter in the State of Oklahoma, you’re going to want to talk to an Oklahoma defense attorney about that privately and confidentially. To get that scheduled with somebody at my office, you go online to makelaweasy.com.