Double Jeopardy Claims Do Not Apply To Tribal Court Cases

2004

In United States v. Lara, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that double jeopardy claims do not apply to Indian tribes since they act as sovereign nations. The defendant, Billy Jo Lara, was convicted in a tribal court of assaulting an officer from the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. When the federal government charged him with the same offense, Lara invoked his Fifth Amendment right against double jeopardy. However, the Court says that since the tribe that convicted Lara was considered a “separate sovereign,” Lara’s double jeopardy claims were invalid.