National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault

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Public Law 280


All state courts have criminal jurisdiction over sexual assault crimes committed by non-Indians against other non-Indian victims in Indian Country. A federal law known as Public Law 83-280 (also known as “PL280”) confers state court criminal jurisdiction in select jurisdictions.


In these select jurisdictions, state courts have criminal jurisdiction over both Indians and non-Indians who commit sexual assault crimes in Indian Country. In the six “mandatory” PL280 jurisdictions listed below, the states have criminal jurisdiction over all crimes committed in Indian Country except for those crimes of general national applicability such as violation of the RICO Act, theft from the United States mail, treason, violation of immigration law, etc..


The six "mandatory" PL280 states are:


Alaska (except the Annette Islands with regard to the Metlakatl Indians)


Minnesota (except for the Red Lake Reservation)


Oregon (except for the Warm Springs Reservation)



It is important to note that some of the above listed states have “retroceded” jurisdiction back to certain tribes within their states. There are also several additional “optional” states that have adopted all or part of PL280 jurisdiction over Indian Country. Under the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2009, the federal government may elect to exercise jurisdiction upon request from Tribes.



National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault, a project by the Southwest Center for Law and Policy © 2019

This project was supported by  Grant No. 2011-TA-AX-K045 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessary represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice. All rights reserved. | Privacy policy   Login