FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 4, 2018
Muscogee (Creek) Nation Convicts First Non-Native Offender Through Violence Against Women Act Implementations
OKMULGEE, Okla. – As a Violence Against Women Act implementation, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation convicted its first non-Indian offender by exercising the sovereign power to prosecute domestic violence crimes and protective order violations committed against Natives in Indian Country.
The VAWA Reauthorization 2013 provisions allow the Nation to use its “Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction” authority to prosecute domestic violence, dating violence and protective order violations as long as all statutory requirements have been met.
“This conviction shows that we are serious about Indian domestic violence and we will investigate these claims and take action to the fullest extent of the law to eliminate the domestic violence among our people,” Principal Chief James R. Floyd said. “We want to make it known that we do not condone these actions and there are consequences.”
The Nation is one of only 23 tribes in the country exercising SDVCJ, which stipulations require the case involve a defendant who committed the crime in Indian Country and had sufficient ties to the Native victim, as defined in Section 1304 of VAWA Reauthorization 2013.
On Nov. 4, 2018, MCN Lighthorse Police Department arrested Antonio Martinez-Juarez for violating a protective order and committing domestic violence against a tribal member on trust land.
“Thanks to the prompt response by Lighthorse Officer Troy Dodd and Sargent Leroy Arnold, as well as their knowledge of the Nation’s VAWA provisions, the Nation’s Attorney General’s Office had the evidence necessary to file charges against Martinez-Juarez for his violent actions,” MCN Prosecutor Shelly Harrison said.
Martinez-Juarez was booked into the Okmulgee County Jail where he remains on a hold for a detainer placed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for immigration status.
During his Dec. 18 court hearing, Martinez-Juarez was convicted of Count 1: Domestic Abuse in the Presence of a Child; and Count 2: Violation of a Protective Order.
He was subsequently sentenced on Count 1 to one year in the custody of Lighthorse with time suspended except 90 days with credit for time served; and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. For Count 2, he received a $300 fine and a one-year sentence in Lighthorse custody with time suspended provided he remains in compliance with the rules and conditions of supervised probation.
Additionally, Martinez-Juarez was ordered to complete and follow all recommendations of a domestic violence assessment and substance abuse evaluation, as well as pay all associated court costs.
“We are confident that Judge Greg Bigler’s sentence sends a clear message that the Nation takes domestic violence seriously and that we will take the necessary steps to protect our citizens,” Prosecutor Harrison said.
In an effort to strengthen the justice system in sexual assault and domestic violence crimes, VAWA was first passed by Congress in 1994 for communities to increase victim support and services and impose tougher penalties on offenders.
Since the beginning of VAWA, there has been reauthorizations in 2000, 2005 and 2013, with the 2013 provisions being the most impactful for tribes as it removed the jurisdictional gap that hindered the domestic violence protections available to Native women.
The latest reauthorization stemmed from July 2011 when the U.S. Department of Justice holding extensive meetings with tribal leaders and presenting a legislative proposal to Congress that addressed alarming statistics of unprosecuted and unpunished cases of domestic violence against Native women.
The DOJ National Institute of Justice reported American Indian and Alaska Native women are five times as likely as non-Hispanic Caucasian women to experience physical violence by an inter-racial intimate partner.
According to the NIJ, “more than half (55 percent) of American Indian and Alaska Native women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes – and 90 percent of these victims report being victimized by a non-Indian perpetrator, while only 18 percent report being victimized by an Indian.”
As a result of the 2013 reauthorization, the Nation began exercising SDVCJ March 28, 2016 with efforts from Lighthorse law enforcement, tribal court prosecution and an extensive victim support outreach, the MCN Family Violence and Prevention Program.
The FVPP services include offering victims with assistance filing protective orders, emergency shelter, safety planning, Sexual Assault Nurse Exams among other advocacy efforts.
Additional information on the FVPP services can be found on the Nation’s website at: www.mcn-nsn.gov/services/family-violence-prevention-program/.