AG O’Connor Provides Guidance for Oklahoma Law Enforcement Following Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta Decision
OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, Attorney General John O’Connor sent written guidance to Oklahoma law enforcement and district attorneys following the United States Supreme Court decision in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, a decision that recognized Oklahoma can prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in land that has been held to be Indian country.
“Oklahoma law enforcement is dedicated to the protection of our citizens and has already been implementing some of the advised changes,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “As always, our office stands ready to help any agency if additional assistance is needed to locate victims and pursue charges in cases that were previously not pursued by any law enforcement agency over the past two years.”
The memorandum is a working document and will periodically be updated after further consultation with law enforcement.
On June 29, 2022, in the Castro-Huerta decision, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Oklahoma has jurisdiction over all non-Indian criminal defendants within its borders, including any land that constitutes Indian country.
In the case, Castro, a Mexican national, was convicted by an Oklahoma jury of abusing his five-year-old Indian stepdaughter. Castro argued that, because his victim was Indian, Oklahoma could not prosecute him. The Indian nations agreed with Castro in a brief filed with the Supreme Court. In rejecting this argument, the Supreme Court observed that Castro “would require this Court to treat Indian victims as second-class citizens. We decline to do so.”