Special Rules and Circumstances
Video Transcribed: What do defendants need to know about domestic violence charges in tribal courts in Oklahoma? My name is Ted Hasse. I’m a Muscogee tribal court attorney working in federal courts and tribal courts in the State of Oklahoma. I work on behalf of my clients to defend them in criminal matters and wanted to take a few moments to talk about domestic violence charges in tribal courts because these are the cases that defendants find the attorney general’s office for the tribal nation’s take most seriously and want to treat the defendants most harshly.
While it is the case that in tribal court, Muscogee Creek Nation, and Cherokee Nation, for example, were generally able to get better results for defendants than the defendants are likely to get on the same or similar criminal charges if they were facing state charges, and certainly they’re getting better results than defendants typically get in federal court on a federal charge, the difference with domestic violence charges is much smaller between the outcomes that happen in state and federal court versus tribal court. That is to say that defendants are treated most harshly by courts and by prosecutors when they’re facing domestic violence charges.
One thing that we see is they charge these things very aggressively. Prosecutors are often looking for a way to charge domestic violence incidents as felonies, and one of the ways that they are frequently charging these as felonies are by finding some basis in the fact pattern to assert that there was strangulation. If strangulation is alleged to have occurred, then that would be felony domestic violence.
Another thing that’s important to know, certainly if you’re in Oklahoma and you’re facing domestic violence charges, frequently we’re coming into contact with defendants that are surprised to find themselves in tribal court because they themselves are not a member of some federally recognized tribal nation.
However, under federal law, under the Violence Against Women Act and the series of reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act, Congress has given jurisdiction over non-Native Americans who are alleged to have committed acts of domestic violence against Native Americans.
So this is a category of criminal conduct where folks who are not Native American are finding themselves in tribal court, and there are a bunch of special rules and circumstances that go into the way that that ultimately gets handled. Even the composition of the jury has to be different when that happens.
If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in a tribal court in Oklahoma, you’re going to want to find retained counsel that can help you navigate the system and work towards the best possible outcome you can get. I’d be happy to talk to you. Our number is 918-932-2800. My name is Ted Hasse and I am an Oklahoma criminal defense lawyer. You can also reach out to me at muscogee.tribalcourtattorney.com.