Notice of Revised Draft Criminal Code & Request for Tribal Member Comments

Photo Credit: SUIT

At the direction of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, the Tribe’s Legal Department is seeking comments on a revised draft Criminal Code, a copy can be seen here.

Deadline for submission of written comments:  Please provide any written comments on the draft code by Tuesday, November 6, 2018.  Please submit your comments to James Washinawatok and Jamie Rivera, Legal Department, by one of the following methods:

  • E-mail: and
  • Mail: James Washinawatok or Jamie Rivera, Legal Department, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, P.O. Box 737, Ignacio, Colorado, 81137.
  • Hand delivery: Legal Department, Leonard C. Burch Tribal Administration Building, Ignacio, Colorado, 81137
  • Phone: 970-563-2210 or 970-563-2141.

Summary of draft code:  In 1980, Tribal Council codified the current Criminal Code. Since then, various revisions have been adopted, but Council identified this Code as needing a complete revision.  For example, under the current Code, a husband cannot be prosecuted for rape or sexual assault against his wife because the Code excludes applying those offenses to married couples. In revising the Code, the major differences between the existing Criminal Code are as follows:

  • Criminal Penalty Schedule – Offenses have been classified 1 through 5, with 1 being the most serious, and respective fine and jail penalties assigned to those classes. Tribal Council can amend the penalties at any time by resolution.
  • New Provisions – New provisions to address crimes against at-risk adults, elders, children, human trafficking, domestic violence, firearms restrictions, and weapons offenses, among others have been added.
  • Incorporate Prior Amendments – The Code incorporates all prior amendments into one document for easier reference.
  • Reformatted and Revised – The Code has been reformatted to be consistent with more recently adopted tribal codes (Land Assignment and Traffic) and it has been revised using plain English to be more concise and readable.

The draft Code was developed by reference to other tribes’ similar codes and with participation by representatives from the Tribal Court, Department of Justice and Regulatory, and the Legal Department. The draft Criminal Code has been reviewed by the Tribal Council and authorized it for review and comment to the Tribe’s membership.

In reviewing the Code, Tribal Council is interested in hearing generally as to any comments that the membership may have, but also has been considering various policy questions and is interested in hearing from the membership on the following issues:

  • Marijuana – Tribal Council is considering whether to treat marijuana differently, in light of Colorado legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. The Tribe’s options for marijuana may be limited, especially since the BIA must approve the revised Criminal Code, but if Tribal Council is to decide to treat marijuana differently, it wants to hear from the membership on this issue.
  • Incest – In §5-4-102, regarding the offense of incest, the Tribal Council has considered whether to revise this provision by eliminating or reducing penalties for some consenting adults, or prohibit certain relationships (e.g., stepparents, stepsiblings, degree of cousins, or others).

After the comment period, Tribal Council will review any comments and whether to incorporate any other revisions.

For further information contact:  James Washinawatok or Jamie Rivera, Legal Department, Southern Ute Indian Tribe, P.O. Box 737, Ignacio, Colorado, 81137; telephone number (970) 563-2210 or 563-2141; e-mail or


Click on the links below to view the full PDF files. 

Criminal Penalties Schedule – FOR COMMENT

Title 5 – Criminal Code – FOR COMMENT






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