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Jurisdictional Challenges and Solutions in the Prosecution of Child Abuse and Exploitation

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The opinions, statements, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this session are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the conference hosts.

Attendees will learn the basics of jurisdiction and the interplay of federal, tribal, and state jurisdiction when prosecuting crimes involving child exploitation and abuse. Cross-jurisdictional issues will be discussed, including extradition, Public Law 280, the Tribal Law and Order Act, the Assimilative Crimes Act. The presentation will discuss charging decisions and prosecution by separate sovereigns. The presentation will also describe the definition of “Indian Country,” the General Crimes Act, the Major Crimes Act, and how these laws operate to permit federal prosecutions of crimes including but not limited to those committed on South Dakota’s Reservations.

Presented by Heather Knox, Assistant United States Attorney, U.S Attorney’s Office
Community Response to Child Abuse Conference 2023

Heather Knox is an Assistant United States Attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice. Ms. Knox prosecutes a wide array of criminal offenses involving the sexual exploitation of children and adults, including crimes involving child pornography and online solicitation of minors. She also prosecutes violent crimes that occur on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Ellsworth Air Force Base, and elsewhere in Western South Dakota, with an emphasis on homicides and sexual assaults of adults and children.

Ms. Knox has been the co-chair of the West River Human Trafficking Task Force since 2021. Ms. Knox is a member of the South Dakota State Bar Association, the Pennington County Bar Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Association of Assistant United States Attorneys, the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, and the West River Infant/Child Death Review committee. Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Ms. Knox served as a deputy state’s attorney in Pennington County, South Dakota. She has been a state and federal prosecutor since 2013. Ms. Knox received her juris doctorate and undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of South Dakota.