Can I get my case dismissed based on McGirt?
The 2020 decision in McGirt v Oklahoma was a highly important ruling for the sovereign rights of Native American people who are living within tribal land. Justice Gorsuch in his speech took a strong position of support for Native American people by stating “On the far end of the Trail of Tears was a promise.” As a result of this decision, many Native American people accused of committing crimes by Oklahoma courts have been able to get their cases dismissed and ensure that their sovereign rights are protected.
Getting your case dismissed without legal knowledge can be quite complex, which is why we recommend contacting an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you with your case. At Cannon & Associates, our lawyers are highly skilled at managing criminal law dismissals and we have helped hundreds of clients get favorable outcomes in their cases. We understand the unique challenges that Native Americans in Oklahoma have faced for many years, and we want to uphold the decision in McGirt and ensure that your self-determination rights are protected.
Our criminal defense lawyers can advise you on your situation, assess whether you qualify under McGirt, and help submit a dismissal motion on your behalf. It is important that you have a fierce advocate by your side to guide you through the Oklahoma legal system, and we are dedicated to fighting on your behalf.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
McGirt vs. Oklahoma
The McGirt v Oklahoma case was a significant decision for Native American sovereignty in Oklahoma and it gave power back to tribal members to handle most criminal matters themselves. The case involved a defendant, Jimcy McGirt who had been convicted of serious crimes under state law and imprisoned in an Oklahoma state prison. He argued to the Court of Criminal Appeals that his case should be dismissed on the grounds that the state had no jurisdiction to try his case in an Oklahoma court as he was a Native American and the crime occurred on Native land.
The Court of Criminal Appeals rejected his claim however on appeal to the United States Supreme Court they ruled in his favor and found that Oklahoma law relating to most crimes should not apply within Native American land. The Supreme Court established that because McGirt was a Native American and the crime was committed within Native American land, Oklahoma state authorities do not have subject matter jurisdiction.
In this particular case, the crimes that the defendant was accused of were listed under the federal Major Crimes Act and involved crimes of a particular level of seriousness. As such, the federal courts still reserved jurisdiction to bring separate federal charges against the defendant. He was indicted and convicted by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma’s federal grand jury and sentenced to time in prison. This meant that the federal court would have exclusive jurisdiction over crimes that fall under the Major Crimes Act.
Implications of the Supreme Court Decision
The United States Supreme Court decision in the McGirt case has far-reaching implications for both Native and non-Native people who live on tribal land. The decision significantly changed criminal jurisdiction within Oklahoma, allowed those convicted of crimes prior to the decision to get their convictions vacated, and applied exclusive jurisdiction to the federal courts for serious crimes in the Major Crimes Act.
As a result of this decision, tribal sovereignty has been restored to tribal land in Oklahoma in regard to most criminal matters, with the exception of major crimes under federal law. This means that Oklahoma courts can no longer prosecute Native American people for allegedly committing crimes on their own land.
The most important finding in the McGirt case is that the state of Oklahoma does not have subject matter jurisdiction over tribal lands, which originally applied solely to Muscogee Creek Nation, but later got extended to include any nation reservation that had not been disestablished by Congress. As such, almost all of Eastern Oklahoma, including Tulsa County, would now be considered Indian Land. This jurisdiction includes all Five Civilized Tribes including Muscogee Creek Nation, Seminole, Choctaw Nation, Chickasaw, and Cherokee.
What this means is that state courts cannot bring criminal cases against Native American individuals who are accused of committing crimes within this jurisdiction. It also applied to non-Native people who commit crimes against Native victims. However, the more recent Supreme Court decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta found that non-Native individuals accused of committing crimes against Native American people can also be tried in a state court.
Now, an Oklahoma Court does not have the requisite jurisdiction to prosecute Native Americans for crimes committed on their land, and doing so can result in cases dismissed or charges thrown out. McGirt applies to all misdemeanor criminal charges and minor crimes that are not listed under the Major Crimes Act. If you have been charged with a crime under state law and believe that your case falls under the scope of McGirt, you should seek assistance from a criminal defense lawyer. They can help advise you on your situation and file a dismissal motion to get your case dropped.
Originally, the McGirt decision meant that any state charges or convictions made against Native Americans and non-Native Americans on tribal land prior to the decision could be overturned. As a result, many individuals serving time for convictions were able to submit a motion to dismiss and get their convictions vacated. The federal court still reserved the right to bring further charges against individuals who got their charges overturned, however, but they did not do so in all cases.
As a result of this, the Supreme Court made a decision at the beginning of 2022 to change the way in which the McGirt decision operates. Previously, the law was able to apply retroactively, and people could get post-conviction relief. However, the new decision provides that Native and non-Native people who now qualify under the McGirt decision but received criminal convictions prior to the decision cannot apply for post-conviction relief.
As such, applying for post-conviction relief and getting convictions vacated is now extremely difficult. If you made an application to the court prior to this decision, you may still be able to get your conviction vacated, however, it will depend on the decision of the Judge. Contact one of our criminal defense lawyers to learn more about getting post-conviction relief from the McGirt ruling.
Can I Get My Case Dismissed Based on McGirt?
Because the Supreme Court established that the Oklahoma state courts do not have subject matter jurisdiction over Native land and never did have jurisdiction, it is possible to get your case dismissed if you qualify under the requirements set out in the McGirt decision. This means that any charges brought against you by the state can be dropped if the following requirements are proven:
- The crime occurred on Native land
- The crime was allegedly committed by tribal members or against tribal members
- The victim or alleged perpetrator has some traces of Native blood
Depending on the severity of the crime you are charged with, you could face serious penalties and have a permanent criminal record, which can have a huge impact on your future. By getting your case dismissed, you may be able to avoid a criminal conviction entirely.
If you meet the above requirements yet are facing criminal charges in an Oklahoma state court, then you may be able to get your case dismissed. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help advise you on whether you are entitled to a case dismissal and can help file a motion to dismiss on your behalf. The same may apply if you were convicted of a crime after the McGirt decision and your lawyer did not file a dismissal motion on your behalf. One of our attorneys can help you bring your case through the criminal appeals process and get your charges thrown out.
How Can I Get My Charges Thrown Out?
To get your criminal charges thrown out or dismissed, you will have to file a motion to dismiss to the Judge presiding over your case. To successfully get your case dismissed, you must have a valid legal reason demonstrating that the charges or criminal case are invalid. In cases where you fall under the scope of the McGirt decision, your attorney will have to demonstrate as such, and they will likely file a motion to dismiss based on the grounds of lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Without legal representation, it can be quite difficult to file a dismissal motion to the court. You will need to have some legal knowledge to understand the paperwork, be able to input the correct information relating to your case, demonstrate that you meet the requirements set out in the McGirt decision, and argue on your behalf to get the charges dropped. A lawyer from our law firm can help guide you through this process, explain the procedure, and ensure that you get your criminal case dismissed in the state courts.
Federal Law and The Major Crimes Act
The ability to get cases dismissed due to the McGirt ruling does not extend to federal criminal cases. In fact, when dealing with crimes that fall under The Major Crimes Act, the federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction within tribal land. Federal jurisdiction is exclusive to all Native and non-Native people who commit crimes such as murder, manslaughter, felony child abuse, felony assault, assault on a minor, kidnapping, felonies under section 109A, neglect, and more.
As such, federal jurisdiction essentially overrules the McGirt decision and can be applied to Native Americans and non-Native Americans on tribal land regardless of whether they qualify under the McGirt case. So, if you are tried for any of these crimes by the federal government within Indian Country and you are a Native American person, you will be unable to get your charges dismissed.
It is important to be aware that federal law imposes far harsher penalties than state law. If you are convicted of a crime in a federal court, you could be looking at a lengthy prison sentence, huge fines, a permanent criminal record, probation, and much more. In addition, the federal government has a significant amount of resources that are used to investigate people suspected of crimes, including federal agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), investigative tools such as wiretapping, undercover agents, and highly experienced prosecutors.
If you have been charged with a crime under federal law, you will need to hire strong legal representation to get a favorable outcome in your case. The lawyers at Cannon & Associates have a lot of experience with federal criminal cases, and we know what it takes to come up against federal prosecutors. Our lawyers will try and negotiate a fair plea bargain on your behalf, fight against your cases in court, and build a strong criminal defense for your case.
Criminal Defense Lawyers at Cannon & Associates
At Cannon & Associates, our top priority is ensuring that you are offered the highest standard of legal protection at all times. As fierce advocates for criminal defendants, our top goals are ensuring that your case gets dismissed or thrown out, that you do not spend time in jail or face serious consequences, and that your rights are protected. We understand that when you are facing criminal charges, your entire life is on the line. This is why we strive to ensure that you do not face a conviction and that your future is not impacted by a criminal conviction.
Our law firm helps clients all over Oklahoma with many different types of criminal law cases. Our lawyers are highly experienced with case dismissals, conviction dismissals, and federal court cases. With our many years of combined experience, we have gained a unique insight into how the criminal system works and we know what it takes to ensure that your case gets thrown out.
The criminal defense lawyers at our firm have won many awards for their fierce advocacy on behalf of their clients and their dedication to protecting defendants’ rights. These awards include Oklahoma’s Lawyers for American Heroes, The National Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyers, and Super Lawyers. All of our attorneys have been recognized by their respective State Bar Association.
Contact a McGirt Criminal Defense Attorney at Cannon & Associates
The decision in McGirt v Oklahoma found that the state of Oklahoma does not have jurisdiction over crimes that occur within tribal lands by or on tribal members. As such, an Oklahoma court cannot prosecute Indians for crimes if they satisfy the requirements established in McGirt. To qualify, you must demonstrate that you or the victim are members of a federally recognized tribe, the crime occurred on tribal lands, and you or the victim have Native blood.
If you have been charged with a crime by the state authority of Oklahoma and believe you may be entitled to get your case dismissed based on McGirt, you should speak with an experienced McGirt criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. At Cannon & Associates, our lawyers are highly skilled at managing case dismissals and have helped numerous clients get their charges thrown out on the grounds of no subject matter jurisdiction.
The lawyers in our law firm have been working as fierce advocates for all residents of Oklahoma for many years, and we have successfully come up against the Oklahoma law system in a large volume of cases. We want to protect your rights as a Native American person and ensure that you are awarded the highest standard of fairness and equality in your case. Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
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