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Indian Country Criminal Jurisdiction - by Native.law

Jurisdiction Chart

In the usual situation, Indian country criminal jurisdiction is largely determined by looking at three factors: 1) the status of the perpetrator (Indian or non-Indian), 2) the status of the victim (Indian or non-Indian), and 3) the type of crime involved.

Greatly over-simplified, (and where neither Public Law 280 nor any other special jurisdictional statute applies) the usual Indian country criminal jurisdictional arrangement looks like this:

1. Indian perpetrator & Indian victim: Common felonies - Federal Court; Misdemeanors (and some felonies in specific situations) - Tribal Court.

2. Indian perpetrator & non-Indian victim: Felonies - Federal Court; Misdemeanors (and some felonies in specific situations) - Tribal Court.

3. Indian perpetrator of victimless crime: Felonies - Federal Court; Misdemeanors (and some felonies in specific situations) - Tribal Court.

4. Non-Indian perpetrator & non-Indian victim: State Court.

5. Non-Indian perpetrator & Indian victim: Federal Court; plus Tribal Courts can also exercise jurisdiction in some domestic violence related cases in specific situations.

6. Non-Indian perpetrator of victimless crime: State Court.

The US Department of Justice has developed a series of detailed reference charts that are very helpful. There are three charts; the charts show: 1) the general arrangement, 2) where jurisdiction has been given to the state by Public Law 280, and 3) where jurisdiction has been given to the state by another statute. Take a look by clicking in the orange box below.

Indian Country Criminal Justice Links

Tribal Police Links

CLICK HERE for the INDIAN COUNTRY CRIMINAL JURISDICTION CHARTS from the US Department of Justice Criminal Resource Manual