Tribal Law Enforcement

Practice Area

Brad S. Jolly & Associates attorneys have provided assistance to tribal police departments as well as assisted tribes in establishing police departments. We have also represented tribes in the establishment and development of criminal laws and procedures as full exercises of tribal sovereignty. Some of the areas of law enforcement the firm has gained experience in are:

  • Drafting of law and order codes establishing police departments
  • Drafting codes setting forth crimes and criminal conduct
  • Drafting and negotiating mutual aid law enforcement agreements
  • Providing opinions to tribal courts on matters of tribal criminal law
  • Representing tribal police departments in federal criminal proceedings involving on-reservation crimes under federal jurisdiction
  • Providing advise regarding enforcement of criminal laws on-reservation against both Indians and non-Indians

Although sometimes overlooked, tribal law enforcement is a key aspect of tribal sovereignty and self-government. Brad S. Jolly & Associates recognizes this fact and understands the uniqueness of criminal jurisdiction and law enforcement in Indian country. In particular, Brad S. Jolly & Associates consistently maintains an approach in dealing with law enforcement issues that is rooted in deep beliefs in ultimate tribal sovereign authority. In particular, while many seem to approach tribal law enforcement as though it is primarily the function of the federal government and tribes simply exercise criminal jurisdiction when the United States permits it, Brad S. Jolly & Associates recognizes the disrespectful and incorrect interpretation of tribal authority and Indian law such attitudes represent. While the United States has enacted many laws affecting tribal criminal jurisdiction, it is always the starting point that tribes are vested with full criminal jurisdiction within their territory which may have been limited by Congress. But, under all circumstances, the tribe's exercise of criminal jurisdiction is part of its inherent authority, unless it is an extension of that authority through a delegation of federal power through an act of Congress. Tribal criminal authority is not a matter of "permission" from the United States and when the federal government exercises criminal jurisdiction within Indian country, it is a separate exercise of jurisdiction not related to the tribe's authority.