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For more than two centuries, the Federal Government has recognized Indian tribes as domestic sovereigns that have unique government-to-government relationships with the United States. Congress has broad authority to legislate with respect to Indian tribes, however, and has exercised this authority to establish a complex jurisdictional scheme for the prosecution of crimes committed in Indian country. (The term “Indian country” is defined in 18 U.S.C. 1151.) Criminal jurisdiction in Indian country typically depends on several factors, including the nature of the crime; whether the alleged offender, the victim, or both are Indian; and whether a treaty, Federal statute, executive order, or judicial decision has conferred jurisdiction on a particular government.
The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) was enacted on July 29, 2010, as Title II of Public Law 111-211. The purpose of the TLOA is to help the Federal Government and tribal governments better address the unique public-safety challenges that confront tribal communities. Section 221(b) of the new law, now codified at 18 U.S.C. 1162(d), permits an Indian tribe with Indian country subject to State criminal jurisdiction under Public Law 280, P.L. 83-280, 67 Stat. 588 (1953) to request that the United States accept concurrent jurisdiction to prosecute violations of the General Crimes Act and the Major Crimes Act within that tribe's Indian country.
On December 6, 2011, 76 FR 76037 the Department published final regulations that established the framework and procedures for a mandatory Public Law 280 tribe to request the assumption of concurrent Federal criminal jurisdiction within the Indian country of the tribe that is subject to Public Law 280. 28 CFR 50.25. Among other provisions, the regulations provide that upon receipt of a tribal request the Office of Tribal Justice shall publish a notice in the
By a request dated January 17, 2012, the Hoopa Valley Tribe located in the State of California requested the United States to assume concurrent Federal jurisdiction to prosecute violations of 18 U.S.C. 1152 (the General Crimes, or Indian Country Crimes, Act) and 18 U.S.C. 1153 (the Major Crimes Act) within the Indian country of the tribe. This would allow the United States to assume concurrent criminal jurisdiction over offenses within the Indian country of the tribe without eliminating or affecting the State's existing criminal jurisdiction.
This notice solicits public comments on the above request.