Federal Prosecutors Tend to Handle More Serious Cases in Tribal Court
Video Transcribed: What kind of criminal charges can we expect to see in tribal court in Oklahoma? My name is Ted Hasse. I’m a Tulsa lawyer practicing in federal and tribal courts, handling criminal defense for my clients. Tribal court for Cherokee Nation Court and court for the Muscogee Creek Nation, for example, what you’re going to see is the full range of possible charges.
Naturally, you’re going to see a distribution where there are more or lesser charges, more minor charges. There are going to be more misdemeanor charges than you will see, for example, felony charges. And then at the high end of felony charges, it is relatively rare to see extremely serious charges like a homicide charge in a tribal court and let me tell you why that is.
What happens is there’s an interaction that happens behind the scenes between the attorney general’s offices of the nations and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, that’s the federal prosecutors. And the federal prosecutors will tend to pick up a lot of the more serious cases. Cases, for example, homicide cases, and then they will tend to pick up the cases if it’s a drug trafficking case. If there’s a particularly high amount, oftentimes federal authorities will pick up those cases.
One of the reasons that we see this is there’s a limitation for tribal courts. There is a maximum sentence per felony in tribal court of up to three years. Those can be stacked, but there’s a limit there too. So there are fairly low limits on what the sentencing options are for tribal courts, and so cases that are much more serious, tend to end up in federal court.
If your loved one is facing criminal charges in the state of Oklahoma but isn’t being charged by a county district attorney, if you’re facing tribal court or federal court, you’re going to want to talk to a lawyer that can help you under both of those circumstances and help you sort out what your best options are and what the best pass forward is.
I’ll be happy to talk to you. You can reach us at (918) 932-2800. Again, my name is Ted Hasse, an attorney for Tribal courts in Oklahoma.