Extradition is something we watch on the news all the time. Famous extradition cases involved various personalities such as Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, considered to be the most powerful drug trafficker in the world, extradited from Mexico to the U.S.  Another is Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency computer programmer who collected and leaked classified NSA documents and fighting extradition to the U.S.  Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder is facing a U.S. extradition case  for leaking confidential U.S. documents through his website. These are just some of the well-known international criminals that were the subjects of extradition proceedings. But how does one define extraditions?

Extradition Process Defined

The first step you should take upon being arrested for a crime or offense or if you have an outstanding warrant of arrest is to get in touch with experienced Arizona criminal defense lawyers who can help you through the entire extradition process.

Extradition refers to the legal process wherein an accused criminal is transferred or surrendered by one state or country to another for trial, punishment, or rehabilitation. An extradition treaty prevents people who are charged with crimes from being able to flee to another state or country to avoid prosecution. Extradition proceedings are serious matters. Whether the underlying charge is a misdemeanor or felony, you may be immediately incarcerated upon detainment — even if you have not been convicted of the charges of the criminal case against you.

The objective of extradition is to make sure you are held and transported by the arresting jurisdiction to the requesting jurisdiction for your trial. The arresting jurisdiction There are three types of extradition cases: international extradition, interstate extradition, and intrastate extradition.

  • International extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in another country (e.g. you are extradited from Mexico to the USA).  That means that if a person commits criminal offenses in the US and flees to another country and is subsequently arrested, they face the possibility of extradition back to the US, now identified as the requesting country. The same is true when a suspected criminal is arrested in the US after committing a crime in another country. The process is regulated by extradition treaties conducted between the federal government of the United States and the governments of a foreign country. There are currently more than 100 countries with which the United States has an extradition agreement.

International extradition cases are distinctly different than interstate extradition cases. Where most states freely extradite detainees under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, international extradition cases are subject to complex international laws. International treaties, policies, and procedures must be evaluated and respected. Cases involving individuals seeking asylum are even more complicated.

  • Interstate extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in another state within the USA (e.g. you are extradited from California to Arizona). You need not be an international criminal to be subjected to extradition proceedings. Even in the U.S. extradition happens between states. A person can face extradition for both a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Often, the person facing extradition has been accused of committing a crime and has fled their state to avoid arrest, making them fugitives from justice.

Interstate extradition cases are also slightly different than intrastate extradition cases, as interstate extradition requests may need to proceed through the governor’s office via a governor’s warrant. In intrastate extradition cases, it’s often as simple as the other county arranging for transport.

Extradition is covered by the US Constitution, federal statutory provisions, and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. The latter is intended to supplement federal law, providing guidelines and procedures which permit extradition under circumstances and through procedures not articulated in the Federal statute. Following are the requirements which must be met:

  • There is probable cause that a valid out-of-state arrest warrant has been issued;
  • There is an extradition request made from the office of one state’s governor to the other.
  • There is an extradition hearing held and a court in the state with the fugitive has decided to grant or deny extradition.
  • There is a judicial finding that concludes that the demanding state’s request meets all legal criteria, or the wanted person has waived extradition (meaning they agree to go to the demanding state);
  • The demanding state must retrieve the fugitive within 30 days. Otherwise, the arresting state may release them.

The UCEA is not mandatory and only 48 states, including Arizona, have adopted it. A state that hasn’t adopted the UCEA has its own extradition law that complies with the federal statute.

  • Intrastate extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in the same state, but in a separate county (e.g. you are extradited from Maricopa County to Sta. Cruz County). Intrastate extradition is also covered under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act or UCEA.

Fighting Extradition

Whether you are fighting extradition out of the state of Arizona or attempting to not be extradited back, you need to contact a skilled Arizona defense attorney to help. There are many ways that an attorney can challenge an extradition request. This can include:

  • Challenging the legalities of the arrest by filing a “Writ of Habeas Corpus” will review the entire case. The motion may test the legality of your arrest or contest the regularity of the extradition process. Extradition request documents completion and whether or not you have been charged with a crime in the demanding state will also be reviewed. Your attorney may also argue that the bail amount is unfair or contest the requesting party’s jurisdiction.

The term habeas corpus is Latin for “produce the body” and literally means that law enforcement must produce a body of proof as to why the wanted person should be detained.

  • The identity of the person arrested could be called into question to ensure that the right person has been arrested for the warrant issued. It must be established that the person named in the extradition request is the person charged with the crime; and that the petitioner is, in fact, a fugitive from the requesting state.

If you are an Arizona resident with an outstanding warrant for your arrest in another state or country, your attorney can either quash the warrants or arrange for your voluntary surrender in front of a judge. The judge may or may not be willing to drop the underlying charges but this enables the arresting state to release you upon an agreement that you will appear in the charging state’s court at an arranged date, avoiding the prospect of extradition altogether.

If extradition is unavoidable, getting a good extradition lawyer can at least ensure your rights are respected and you’re treated fairly throughout the extradition process. Your attorney may be able to negotiate for your temporary release on the condition that you will voluntarily surrender to authorities in the requesting jurisdiction. When such a request is approved, you’ll generally have up to two weeks to get your affairs in order and travel to the requesting jurisdiction before surrendering to the authorities there.

Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney

There are several precise requirements that must be followed in extraditing a criminal defendant between states. It can be a scary and confusing process but you don’t have to go through that alone. Getting a good criminal defense lawyer to represent you in legal proceedings is the smartest move you can make to help protect your rights and ensure the best possible defenses to extradition and the underlying criminal charges you may be facing. An experienced criminal defense attorney may fight for a lower sentence or better yet, have charges against you dismissed altogether. Call us at Howard Snader law for legal advice or a free initial consultation.