Understanding Sentencing in the Muscogee Creek Nation Court
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in the Muscogee Creek Nation, what do you need to know about sentencing? My name is Ted Hasse. I practice law in federal and tribal courts in Oklahoma. What I want to talk about briefly today is Muscogee Creek Nation and sentencing.
This looks pretty different from what happens with sentencing in state and federal courts. However, the process isn’t completely removed. It’s still familiar for all the things that are happening in Muscogee Creek Nation. This is one of the things that would be familiar to lawyers, especially in federal practice.
Typically, for most cases, the 98% that are being resolved through a plea agreement, sentencing is a fairly simple affair and it happens all at the same time as a change of plea hearing. What will happen with a defendant who has come to a plea agreement with the Nation through the prosecutors at the Attorney General’s office is that the retained counsel will present the plea agreement paperwork. That will contain the terms of the plea agreement. The defendant will enter either a guilty plea or a no contest plea. Then the judge will pronounce the sentence.
Sentencing after a Trial or in Special Circumstances
Every time I’ve seen it, the judge, although they have the right to sentence outside of whatever is entered into the plea agreement paperwork by the parties, the criminal court judges simply don’t do that. They respect the agreements that are arrived at by the parties. Now, what I do want to talk about is different. There’s sentencing after a trial or in some special circumstances where there’s difficulty arriving at a plea agreement.
Sometimes, and I’ve had cases where it was like this, the parties will agree that the court needs to decide what the sentence is going to be. When that happens, the criminal court judge is going to order a pre-sentence investigation report. That is a step by which their probation staff will then go out, do interviews, collect data and documents, and present an overall packet of data information to the court for its consideration and also to the parties in advance, giving them the opportunity to provide their objections.
Then a sentencing hearing will be set after a pre-sentence investigation report has been completed. As part of that process, there would have been an interview with the defendant and interviews also with any alleged victims. Finally, at the sentencing hearing, and then there’ll be, I should note, an opportunity for both parties to file objections if there’s anything in the pre-sentence investigation report with which they disagree.
Sentencing Hearing and Final Decision
Finally, once sentencing arrives, the judge will have had the opportunity to review sentencing memoranda filed by the parties after the pre-sentence investigation report and will hear arguments and potentially hear also evidence. This is a step at which frequently victims are present and would be providing their own statements for the court. The court will listen to everything that’s been said and then will give an opportunity to the defendant to speak. It’s noteworthy that at these sentencing hearings, the federal rules of evidence don’t apply while at trial they do apply. So there’s a lot of flexibility in how evidence is presented to the court at these sentencing hearings.
But then finally, the judge will call for the defendant to stand up with his or her attorney and face their sentence. At that point, the criminal court judge will pronounce the sentence. In cases where the sentence includes a term of incarceration, in some circumstances, there will be the opportunity to self-surrender at a later date. Sometimes individuals will be brought into custody there on the spot.
Contact Me for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in the Muskogee Creek Nation, you’ll want to have good counsel. You’re going to want to have retained counsel that can help you navigate the process in a way that’s going to get you the best possible result under the circumstances. And I’m that lawyer. Again, my name is Ted Hasse. I can be reached at (918) 947-6552. Contact me for a free consultation and let me help you with your case.