Small Possession, Big Consequences
Video Transcribed: What do defendants need to know about drug charges in tribal court in Oklahoma? My name’s Ted Hasse. I’m a tribal court lawyer in Oklahoma practicing in federal and tribal courts. I handle criminal defense matters on behalf of my clients. I want to talk specifically about Muscogee Creek Nation here in this video because of the fact that we have so many defendants that end up on drug charges or paraphernalia charges in Muscogee Creek Nation, and they are surprised to discover that they’re charged with a felony.
The resolution of drug charges in Muscogee Creek Nation can be sort of a mixed bag for defendants, and here’s why. Although we are oftentimes able to get good outcomes, pretty favorable outcomes, comparatively speaking these defendants, they are being charged with felonies. And as people know, a felony on one’s record can impact their rights, can impact their ability to get jobs, their ability to get licensing, and their ability to get housing. And we’ve also had situations where it’s impacting people’s ability to get benefits, government benefits.
So, it’s important to know that you’re in a situation where you’re facing any kind of drug charge in Muscogee Creek Nation, it’s serious business. You got to find a way to deal with the fact that you’re facing a felony charge. And a lot of times, if it’s just a simple possession case, there’ll be two felony charges.
One, sometimes, you can have an individual who’s being charged for a small amount of marijuana, a felony, a pipe that they have, or a vape pen that they use for the cannabis. Two felonies there on it, in one case.
With larger amounts, what we’re seeing when the amounts get really large, there’s a likelihood that those cases will be picked up by federal authorities, charged by federal prosecutors at the US Attorney’s office, either in the Northern District of Eastern District of Oklahoma, and either investigated by DEA or FBI. We see it sometimes when a defendant first ends up in tribal court. The charge gets referred out to federal prosecutors to review, and then it gets picked up by federal prosecutors and dropped in tribal court.
Certainly, for those defendants that are Native American, who is stopped in Indian Country in Eastern Oklahoma, they’re going to need to think about whether or not they’re dealing with a tribal charge or a federal charge and then there are other issues that you need to look at. If it’s a marijuana charge and they have medical marijuana status, how is that going to play out?
If you or a loved one find yourself in this situation, you’re going to want to find and retain counsel. You’re going to want to find a lawyer who knows how to handle these charges. Happy to talk to you. I can be reached at (918) 932-2800. Again, I am Ted Hasse, a drug crimes attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma. You can also reach me at muscogee.tribalcourtattorney.com.