What Does McGirt vs Oklahoma Mean For Me?
The McGirt v Oklahoma Supreme Court decision in 2020 granted criminal jurisdiction to the Muscogee Creek Nation for most crimes committed by or on Native Americans within this native land. Since then, this criminal jurisdiction has extended to include all tribal land that has not been disestablished by congress, including almost all of Eastern Oklahoma. The federal government however still reserves the right to bring federal charges against Native Americans on their land in some situations.
The Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt is highly significant as it serves to preserve sovereign interests and prevents the State of Oklahoma from bringing charges against Native Americans for alleged crimes committed on Native Land. As a result of this case, many Native Americans have been able to get their state criminal cases thrown out or dismissed, which is a major victory for tribal sovereignty.
If you have been charged with a crime by the Oklahoma court and believe that your case should be dismissed based on McGirt, you should seek legal advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Cannon & Associates, our criminal defense lawyers have been helping clients get their state cases dismissed for many years, and we have the skills necessary to help you get a dismissal. Our priority is ensuring that your legal rights are protected and that you are awarded the best result for your case.
Our lawyers have won many awards for their fierce advocacy and our managing attorney, John Cannon has an AVVO score of 10.0, which is the highest rating attainable.
Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
Significance of Supreme Court Decision in McGirt v Oklahoma
In McGirt v. Oklahoma, the Supreme Court ruled that criminal cases involving tribal members on tribal lands, such as Muscogee Creek Nation, should not be tried in a state court. This means that Native Americans reserve the right to prosecute crimes committed on their land by or on tribal members. As such, the Supreme Court took away criminal jurisdiction from the State of Oklahoma and returned it to native land.
The significance of this decision is that individuals who qualify under the McGirt decision can no longer be prosecuted by state authorities for crimes committed on their land. This means that individuals who are charged for an alleged crime by Oklahoma state police or a state prosecutor can challenge their charges in court and try to get them dismissed.
It is important to note that in the McGirt case, the defendant, Jimcy McGirt was charged with serious crimes under the Major Crimes Act of 1885. Although the state courts were unable to bring the charges against them, he was still subject to federal criminal law, which meant that he was later prosecuted in a federal court. As such, the federal government still reserves the right to charge Native Americans on ancestral lands with federal crimes under the Major Crimes Act.
Can I Be Charged For Crimes in Oklahoma State Courts?
Due to the Reservation boundaries established by the Supreme Court in the McGirt ruling, Oklahoma law enforcement cannot charge Native Americans with crimes allegedly committed within a Reservation. Originally, this ruling extended to non-Native people allegedly committing crimes against Native people within the Reservation. However, a later Supreme Court decision ruled that the state court will have shared jurisdiction when it comes to non-Natives who commit crimes against Native American victims on native land.
To qualify under the McGirt decision your case must meet the following requirements:
- The crime was allegedly committed on tribal land
- You or the victim are tribal members
- You or the victim have some trace of Indian blood
If you have been charged with a crime by state law enforcement, and you believe that you qualify under the McGirt decision, it is strongly recommended that you speak to a criminal defense attorney. They can help you get your case dismissed and prevent you from suffering serious penalties due to a conviction.
Can The Federal Government Bring Charges Against Me?
As noted above, the Supreme Court decision in McGirt did not take away criminal jurisdiction from federal law enforcement in some cases. In most misdemeanor and minor criminal cases, in which the crimes are not listed under the Major Crimes Act, federal authorities will not have jurisdiction to try individuals under federal criminal law.
However, when a Native American commits a serious federal crime, such as murder, kidnapping, manslaughter, felony assault, assault on a minor, felony child abuse, or neglect, for example, they can be charged under federal law. This means that even if you qualify under the McGirt act completely, federal authorities may still bring separate charges against you.
The penalties for federal convictions are far more severe than state convictions, and the federal criminal process is significantly more complex. Due to their expansive resources including investigative agencies such as the DEA, FBI, and CIA, and their ability to use investigative tools such as undercover agents and wiretapping, they typically build up strong criminal cases which are difficult to fight in court.
As such, if you are charged with a federal crime as a Native American on native lands, you should seek strong legal counsel from a reputable criminal defense attorney. You will need an attorney with experience fighting federal cases to ensure that you do not face severe penalties and that you can negotiate a fair plea bargain.
Can I Get State Convictions Dismissed?
Because the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Oklahoma did not have Subject Matter Jurisdiction to bring criminal proceedings against Native Americans on native land, and never did have this jurisdiction, the McGirt decision resulted in many individuals getting their convictions vacated. This meant that those who were originally convicted by state courts for their alleged crimes could get their cases thrown out and get post-conviction relief.
However, the aftermath of this retroactive law application meant that many people convicted of severe crimes by state law enforcement were let free from prison and not charged again by Federal Law Enforcement. Because of this, the Supreme Court held in January 2022 that the decision of McGirt could no longer be applied retroactively, and any criminal convictions made by Eastern Oklahoma courts before this decision could not now be vacated.
This decision was disappointing for Native Americans and those who qualify under McGirt as it makes it significantly more difficult to get justice for previous wrongful convictions. However, if you made an application to the court before the Supreme Court decision this year, you may still be entitled to get your conviction thrown out. Contact our law firm to discuss your legal options.
I’ve Been Criminally Charged in The Federal Court, What Should I Do?
If you have been charged with federal crimes it is vital that you contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. With federal criminal cases, the stakes are extremely high, and winning cases against the federal government is extremely difficult. Due to the extensive amount of resources that the government has, including its investigative agencies, tools, and prosecuting resources, you will need to build up a strong criminal defense to defend your case.
A criminal defense lawyer will negotiate with the federal prosecutor to try and achieve a fair plea bargain for your case. This could include getting your charges reduced substantially, achieving a minor penalty, or getting your charges thrown out completely. Without a defense attorney, it can be extremely difficult to negotiate with federal prosecutors, and they do not treat those accused of a crime lightly.
What Does McGirt v Oklahoma Mean For Me?
The Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma has had a significant impact on criminal jurisdiction in the state of Oklahoma. Following a long period of miscarried justice within the state and Native Amerians being charged with crimes under Oklahoma state law, the decision promotes tribal sovereignty and allows Native people to deal with most criminal matters independently.
The consequences for those people who qualify under McGirt is that they may be able to get their state criminal case dismissed, however, they may also be tried under federal law for their crimes, which imposes much harsher penalties. If you believe that your state criminal case should be dismissed on the grounds of McGirt, or if you are facing federal charges, you should seek legal representation as soon as possible.
At Cannon & Associates, our lawyers are highly skilled at handling federal cases, and we have helped many clients get their state charges dismissed. We understand the unique difficulties of by Native American people facing criminal charges, and we want to ensure that you are afforded the highest protection of the law.
Our law office has built up a strong attorney-client relationship due to our many years of hard work and dedication, and want to be a fierce advocate for your case.
Call us today to schedule a free consultation at 405-591-3935.
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