Tahlequah Attorney BlogWhat You Should Not Do If You Are in a Traffic Stop on a Reservation

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Video Transcribed: My name is Ryan Cannonie, I am the Tahlequah criminal defense attorney for Wirth Law Office in Cherokee county. And a situation came up the other day. I’m definitely not going to name names, but I have a family member who was talking to me about a traffic citation and during his traffic stop, first off, when you do get pulled over, this is something I used to say when I was a prosecutor, it holds true to now, don’t, I’m not saying don’t assert your rights, but if you’re wanting to fight something about the ticket, do they have the authority to pull you over?

Things like that. Better place to fight that’s in court, you see videos and you see stuff all the time about people getting into these yelling matches or sometimes physical fights with law enforcement on the side of the road that never ends well for the person who’s involved in it.

The place to fight a traffic ticket is court, not on the shoulder of the road, but that kind of a tangent there. His situation was he pointed out to the state trooper who pulled him over that he didn’t have jurisdiction to pull him over because of the time he was setting on a branch, like a health branch of one of the tribes health departments, that’s where he pulled into whenever he got pulled over.

So I felt this was a situation I’ve actually heard other people describe, well, they can’t pull me over because I’m tribal or this is a reservation now after the McGirt decision. So here’s the situation on that. First off, most officers can still stop you. Most. The reason for that is like here in Cherokee County or in the Cherokee Nation, the 14 counties, the Cherokee Nation has granted cross deputization to most law enforcement agencies in this area.

What that means is if a Cherokee County deputy goes to pull you over and you’re a native American person you’re on what is what we’ve learned is still a tribal reservation. Most of them have the authority to still pull you over and stop you because the tribe has granted them, the authority to do that. It’s cross deputization agreements.

At one point, the Oklahoma highway patrol troopers did not have those. I believe they are getting those now or have got those already. There’s been a little bit of a back and forth from the state and the tribe over whether giving troopers cross deputization.

assault and battery on a police officer in OklahomaMost counties had cross deputization agreements with the tribes long before McGirt, the decision got filed. I’m talking years and years and years ago, most tribes gave a cross deputization out to deputies in the counties. So the situation is you can still be pulled over by a lot of officers in Oklahoma.

Even if you qualify as a native American member on a reservation, the difference is, is your citations and tickets or if you’re arrested for a DUI, something like that, shouldn’t go to state court, there’s issue you either go to tribal or federal. That’s where you get into a difference.

So number one thing, assert your rights, but don’t get into a fight with law enforcement on the side of the road about the legality of your ticket. Most of the time, they’re just going to kind of look at you and laugh or just be like, Oh, okay. The place to fight your ticket is going to be in court. Not on the interstate.

The second is that a lot of officers in this state can actually pull you over, even if you are a native American citizen. The thing that have to know, you really need an attorney or you’re going to have to make some phone calls to check on cross deputization of that particular officer.

Like I said, prior to McGirt, most, a lot of officers in Oklahoma were cross deputized after McGirt, there’s a couple agencies, probably still working on it, but the tribes have given cross deputization pretty broadly at this point to try to prevent any criminal cases from slipping through on fault of the officer not being allowed to arrest him.

If you do have questions about a citation or an arrest or a criminal charge, please come and give us a call. We can look it over. Even if we can’t get it thrown out for the officer arresting you, you will want to talk to a Tahlequah attorney, come on down or give us a call. We can help your Tahlequah criminal law case.

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