HR 725 - Tribal Law Enforcement Amendments - National Key Vote

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Title: Tribal Law Enforcement Amendments

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to concur with Senate amendments and pass a bill that expands the authority of tribal courts and expands federal participation in the enforcement and prosecution of violations of federal laws in "Indian country," meaning all land within the limits of any Indian reservation and all dependent Indian communities and Indian allotments.


  • Requires U.S. Attorneys for each district that includes Indian country to appoint at least 1 assistant U.S. Attorney to serve as a tribal liaison for the district, and establishes the following duties of the tribal liaison (Sec. 213):
    • Coordinating and prosecuting federal crimes;
    • Developing multidisciplanary teams to address child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual violence;
    • Consulting and coordinating with tribal justice officials and victims' advocates to address any backlog of the prosecutions of major crimes;
    • Developing relationships and maintaining communication with tribal leaders, tribal community and victims' advocates, and tribal justice officials to gather information from, and share appropriate information with, tribal justice officials;
    • Coordinating with tribal prosecutors in cases in which a tribal government has a concurrent jurisdiction over an alleged crime, in advance of the expiration of any applicable statute of limitations;
    • Providing technical assistance and training on evidence gathering and victim and witness protection to tribal justice officers and other individuals that are instrumental to responding to "Indian country" crimes;
    • Conducting training sessions and seminars to certify special law enforcement commissions to tribal justice officials and other individuals responsible for responding to Indian country crimes;
    • Coordinating with the Office of Tribal Justice; and
    • Conducting other activities to address and prevent crime as determined by the applicable U.S. Attorney.
  • Expands the authority of tribal courts to impose a penalty or punishment for any 1 conviction as follows (Sec. 234):
    • Existing law: up to 1 year imprisonment, $5,000 fine, or both for any 1 offense; and
    • New law:
      • Up to 3 years imprisonment, $15,000 fine, or both for any 1 offense, provided the defendant has been convicted of the same or comparable offense by any jurisdiction of the U.S., or is being prosecuted for an offense comparable to an offense that would be punishable by 1 year imprisonment if prosecuted by the U.S. or any of the states; and
      • Up to 9 years imprisonment as a total penalty or punishment in any 1 criminal proceeding.
  • Requires Indian tribes to do the following if a tribal court is conducting a criminal proceeding in which the defendant faces more than 1 year imprisonment (Sec. 234):
    • Provide defendants with the right of effective assistance of council at least equal to that guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution;
    • Provide indigent defendants the assistance of a defense attorney at the expense of the tribal government who is licensed to practice law in any jurisdiction in the U.S. that applies "appropriate professional licensing standards and effectively ensures ... competence and professional responsibility";
    • Require the judge to be licensed to practice law and have "sufficient legal training";
    • Make publicly available, before charging the defendant, the criminal laws, rules of evidence, and the rules of criminal procedure of the tribal government; and
    • Maintain a record of the criminal proceeding.
  • Requires U.S. Attorneys to do the following if he or she declines to prosecute, or terminates the prosecution of, an alleged violation of federal criminal law in Indian country (Sec. 212):
    • Coordinate with the appropriate tribal justice officials on the status of the investigation and the evidence relevant to the case; and
    • Submit to the Native American Issues Coordinator information on the alleged violations of federal criminal law, including the types of crimes alleged, whether the accused and the victim are Indians or non-Indians, and reasons for deciding to decline or terminate the prosecutions.
  • Expands the authority of the Bureau of Justice Statistics to collect, analyze, maintain, publish, and disseminate crime data in Indian country, and requires the Director of the Bureau and the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs to work with Indian tribes and tribal law enforcement agencies to establish and implement tribal data collection systems (Sec. 251).
  • Requires the Attorney General to authorize tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs law enforcement agencies to access and enter information into federal criminal information databases and obtain information from the databases (Sec. 233).
  • Requires the Secretary of the Division of Law Enforcement Services in Indian Country to ensure that the training standards for tribal police officers meet the following criteria (Sec. 231):
    • Are consistent with the standards accepted by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Accreditation Commission for law enforcement officers attending similar programs; and
    • Include instruction regarding federal sources of authority and jurisdiction, federal crimes, federal rules of criminal procedure, and constitutional law to bridge the gap between state training and federal requirements.
  • Requires the Division of Law Enforcement Services in Indian Country to ensure that tribal police officers are trained on how to properly interview victims of domestic and sexual violence and to collect, preserve, and present evidence to prosecutors to increase the conviction rate for domestic and sexual violence (Sec. 262).
  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Division of Law Enforcement Services in Indian Country to employ individuals up to 46 years of age as tribal police officers, provided the individual meets all other applicable hiring requirements (Sec. 231).
  • Requires the Director of the Indian Health Service, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Justice Services and the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women of the Department of Justice, to develop standardized sexual assault policies and protocol for the facilities of the Service, based on similar protocol that has been established by the Department of Justice (Sec. 265).
  • Requires the Attorney General to establish the Office of Tribal Justice as a component of the Department of Justice within 90 days of the date of enactment, and establishes the following duties of the Office (Sec. 106):
    • Serve as the program and legal policy advisor to the Attorney General with respect to the treaty and trust relationship between the U.S. and Indian tribes;
    • Serve as the point of contact for federally recognized tribal governments and tribal organizations with respect to questions and comments on the policies and programs of the Department and issues related to public safety and justice in Indian country; and
    • Coordinate with other bureaus, agencies, offices, and divisions within the Department to ensure that each component has an accountable process to ensure "meaningful and timely consultation" with tribal leaders in the development of regulatory policies and other actions that affect the trust responsibilities of the U.S. to Indian Tribes, any tribal treaty provision, the status of Indian tribes as sovereign governments, or any other tribal interest.