MBCI: Law changes adopted for public health

CHOCTAW, Miss. (WTOK) - The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has made several changes to its Criminal Code due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a news release, an amendment was made to an existing law that made it a crime to knowingly expose someone to tuberculosis. The law has been broadened to make it a crime for a person to knowingly expose someone to any infectious or communicable disease, such as COVID-19. If a person is convicted of committing this crime, they could face up to 6 months in jail and/or be fined up to $500.00.

The second new criminal law is an amendment to a law that made it a crime to commit an assault or battery on a police officer. The changes to the law make it a crime to commit an assault or battery on any tribal employee who is acting in their official capacity or any elected official. The changes provide for a mandatory sentence of six months in jail, if a person uses a weapon to threaten serious bodily injury or causes bodily injury while using a weapon; causes serious bodily injury, or causes bodily fluids to make physical contact with a tribal employee or elected official.

The third new criminal law makes it a crime to violate quarantine or isolation orders that are issued under the direction of the Chief Medical Officer at Choctaw Health Center and Choctaw Tribal Court pursuant to the new Emergency Health Powers Code. Under Choctaw Tribal Code 3-3-34, violation of a quarantine or isolation order is a Class A offense and upon conviction, would allow for a sentence of up to 6 months in jail and/or up to a $500.00 fine.

“The Ordinances passed today are extremely important in updating our Tribal Code which will in turn help keep our tribal communities and surrounding areas safe,” said Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben. “I want to thank the Tribal Council for unanimously approving these ordinances. We are in an unprecedented time and I appreciate them working closely with me in continuing to keep our communities as safe as possible. Stay home, stay safe, save lives.”

Due to the State of Emergency, MBCI says these laws will go into effect immediately for the protection of the public and the front-line workers.