Pursuant to the Extradition Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article IV Section 2):

A person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

Extradition is the process by which one state or nation gives over a person for the purpose of ensuring the individual is subject to criminal punishment or trial. Extradition ensures that an individual who commits a crime in another state or country and flees that state or country does not simply get away with the crime. Instead, he must face the consequences of his criminal conduct.

Who Can Be Extradited?

Two groups of people can be extradited. First, people who have been charged with a serious crime but have not been tried can be extradited. Second, those who have been tried and convicted of a crime but escaped custody, or who have been subject to conviction in absentia (without appearing in court), can also be extradited.

How is Extradition Granted Between States?

In order for a state to extradite a criminal awaiting trial or punishment, the following rules apply:

  • The state where the fugitive fled that requests extradition must demand extradition via executive authority;
  • Provide a copy of the indictment with the demand;
  • The indictment must be for a serious offense such as treason, a felony or other serious crimes;
  • The documents demanding extradition must be certified by the state governor or chief magistrate;
  • The state where the fugitive has fled must notify the state demanding the return of the fugitive;
  • An agent of the state requesting extradition must make an appearance, usually within 30 days, to receive the prisoner; and
  • If no agent has appeared within 30 days, the prisoner may be legally discharged.

What is Required for International Extradition?

Extradition between different countries is governed by treaties. Extradition treaties differ as to the crimes which render a fugitive eligible for extradition. Additionally, each country has different laws regarding how they deal with extradition requests.

In general, extradition between nations begins first with the request for extradition from one nation to another. Then, the nation determines what treaties are in place and what rules govern the extradition proceeding based on the given treaty. The treaty governs extradition and how the fugitive is treated. Notwithstanding, most countries refuse to extradite people who have already been found not guilty of criminal charges.

Can Extradition be Refused or Rejected?

Yes, in the following circumstances:

  • In international extradition, if the person has already been found not guilty of the charges;
  • If documents for extradition are not prepared correctly;
  • If the fugitive has not been properly charged with a crime in the state requesting extradition; and/or
  • The person is not a fugitive (i.e. has not fled the scene of the crime).

Should I Hire an Attorney?

Extradition proceedings can raise some very serious issues with regards to a person’s individual liberty and rights. If you are involved in an extradition request, it is important that you speak with a criminal lawyer immediately. Extraditions always involve multiple jurisdictions, and so it may be necessary to hire an attorney for representation. Your attorney can help you determine your rights and zealously put forth any defenses.