Extradition Laws

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What Is Extradition?

Extradition is when one state or foreign nation delivers a suspected or convicted criminal to another state or nation. In general, the extradition process begins with a request from one executive to another. The proper authority in the requesting state or nation must submit an official request for extradition to the state or nation which the fugitive has fled.

This request must include certified copy of an indictment, an affidavit naming the fugitive and their alleged crime, or any other number of supporting documents. The authorities of the state or nation where the accused or fugitive is believed to be located must attempt to locate them, and after so doing notify the requesting authorities of the fugitive’s apprehension. Once the requesting authorities have received notice they must send representatives to take custody of the suspect or fugitive and escort him back.

What Is Interstate Extradition?

This is extradition between various states, and is compelled by the “Extradition of Fugitives Clause” in the U.S. Constitution. The clause requires all states to transfer those fugitives who have committed or are suspected of committing a crime to the State from which the fled.

For example, if suspected criminal Smith is wanted in Texas but is captured in Wyoming, Texas would apply to Wyoming to extradite Smith back to Texas.

What Is International Extradition?

The general international principles of international law do not require extradition, and as such it can only be requested by one sovereign nation to another unless it is compelled by a signed and settled treaty.

Even if there is a treaty, some nations will not extradite a suspected or convicted criminal in certain circumstances. These can include:

  • If the alleged crime is only prohibited in one of the nations
  • If the crime is of political nature
  • Crimes for which the death penalty may be applied.

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

Extradition can be complicated, especially when conducted between sovereign nations. If you are worried about the possibility of extradition, you should contact a criminal defense attorney for advice and the current state of extradition policy between the U.S. and the country in question.

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Last Modified: 08-20-2014 10:42 AM PDT

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