The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits “double jeopardy,” or
putting a person on trial again for a crime for which that person has already been found
not guilty.

The Fifth Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights, which consists of the first ten
amendments to the Constitution. Before 1925, these amendments were held to apply to
the federal government only. In the 1920s, the Supreme Court interpreted the Fourteenth
Amendment to “incorporate” most portions of them such that they became enforceable
against state governments of the United States too.

Indian tribes are not the federal government. Nor are they states of the United States.
Rather, under federal law they are sovereign states. See
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, 30
U.S. (5 Pet.) 1, 16 (1831). So unlike that of a state of the United States, the power of an
Indian tribe does not derive from the Federal Government. The United States and a tribe
may thus both vindicate their public policies, even if those policies are the same.

As a result, a tribe and a governmental entity of the United States may both prosecute a
defendant for the same crime without violating the constitutional prohibition against
double jeopardy. See
United States v. Lara, 541 U.S. 193 (2004).
These contents are for general education
and are not to be construed as legal advice.
Indian Sovereignty & Double Jeopardy