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Working Effectively with Tribal Governments

Federal Indian Law and Policy

When no special jurisdictional statutes apply

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Greatly simplified (and where neither Public Law 280 nor any other special jurisdictional statutes apply), the usual Indian country criminal jurisdictional arrangement is:

  1. Indian perpetrator & Indian victim: concurrent tribal and federal jurisdiction: "Major Crimes" (as statutorily defined) federal court; all offenses tribal court (penalty limited by Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA)).
  2. Indian perpetrator & non-Indian victim: concurrent tribal and federal jurisdiction: "Major Crimes" federal court; all offenses tribal court (penalty limited by ICRA).
  3. Non-Indian perpetrator & non-Indian victim: state court.
  4. Non-Indian perpetrator & Indian victim: federal court.


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