What is extradition? If a criminal suspect flees from this state to avoid prosecution or punishment, will the authorities in California pursue that suspect and seek extradition?
What if you’re in California and you are wanted for a crime in another state? If that state seeks extradition, will California automatically send you back? Can a sex crimes attorney help?
Extradition is the legal procedure of returning someone back to the jurisdiction where that person is charged with a crime or where that person has violated the terms of bail, probation, or parole.
WHAT TRIGGERS AN EXTRADITION PROCESS?
Routinely, some persons are extradited into California, and others are extradited out of California. Extradition into California can happen when someone has been apprehended in a different state after:
- being charged with a crime by California authorities
- escaping from custody in California
- violating the conditions of bail, probation, or parole in California
Extradition out of California is a similar – but reversed – situation where the alleged crime or alleged violation happened in another state, and the suspect or offender has been apprehended in California.
HOW IS THE EXTRADITION PROCESS GOVERNED BY THE LAW?
California law governs both situations. It spells out precisely what is required of both states and how the states must conduct an extradition procedure. The state seeking the extradition is called the “demanding” state (or the “home” state), and the other state is called the “asylum” state.
Along with those who have intentionally fled or escaped to another state and those who have violated bail, probation, or parole, extradition also extends to those who have moved or traveled without knowing that they are wanted for a crime or that an active arrest warrant is pending.
WHAT STATE AND FEDERAL LAWS GOVERN EXTRADITION?
California and forty-six other states have enacted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA). This statute clearly spells out the legal procedures that the states must follow when they conduct an extradition.
Federal extradition law requires the demanding state to deliver to the asylum state an affidavit or indictment charging the alleged fugitive.
Federal law then requires the asylum state to arrest the individual and to hold that person in custody for up to thirty days until an agent from the demanding state arrives to “claim” that person. After thirty days, if no agent has arrived, the asylum state must release the individual.
WHAT’S REQUIRED FOR CALIFORNIA TO EXTRADITE SOMEONE?
If you have been charged with a crime in California, if you escape from custody, or if you violate the conditions of bail, parole, or probation in California, and if you subsequently flee from this state, California authorities may seek your extradition.
However, before California will demand your return, authorities will balance the cost and the time involved in extraditing you against the gravity of the crime or violation that you are accused of.
Extradition is more likely for felonies and violent crimes and less likely for non-violent misdemeanors. If California authorities choose extradition, they must:
- issue to the asylum state a legal demand for your extradition
- send an agent to the asylum state to “claim” you within thirty days of your arrest
- return you to California for trial, sentencing, or reincarceration
WHAT IF ANOTHER STATE ASKS CALIFORNIA TO RETURN YOU?
It works a bit differently when California is the asylum state and another state is demanding an extradition. State law makes the authorities here ensure that there is no mistaken identity and that the demanding state has complied with both federal and California state extradition laws.
To that end, before California will hand over anyone in this state to an agent of another state, the California courts will conduct an extradition hearing to ensure that the suspect has been rightly identified and that the suspect’s rights have not been violated.
HOW WILL A SKILLED DEFENSE LAWYER HELP YOU FIGHT EXTRADITION?
If another state is demanding your extradition from California, can you successfully fight the extradition? Your criminal defense attorney has a number of legal defenses available, but the two most frequent defenses offered in extradition cases are these:
- There are flaws with the legal paperwork in the case, and those flaws render the extradition demand invalid.
- The person who is about to be extradited is a victim of mistaken identity and is not in fact the person that the demanding state is actually seeking.
In most extradition hearings, the defendant will be at a distinct disadvantage. He or she has already been charged with or convicted of a criminal offense and has fled from the demanding state, so there is little presumption of innocence.
WHAT ELSE CAN A DEFENSE ATTORNEY DO ON YOUR BEHALF?
If another state is demanding your extradition from California, you must be advised and represented at your extradition hearing by a top-rated Los Angeles criminal defense attorney.
If you choose to fight extradition, your attorney may negotiate with the prosecutor in the demanding state in an effort to resolve the charge against you without requiring extradition. Every extradition case is different, so you must have a good attorney’s sound advice.
If you flee from California after learning that an arrest warrant has been issued for you in this state, you will be subject to extradition upon your arrest in another state.
You can fight extradition in the state where you are arrested, but if you are returned to California, you will face not only the underlying criminal charge but also additional penalties for trying to escape justice.
WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK TO A CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAW FIRM IN CA?
If a California arrest warrant is issued for you, and if you learn of it and become a fugitive, you will only hurt yourself. If you are charged with any crime or with a probation violation, speak to an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at once.
In California and every other state, if you’re arrested, you have the right to remain silent, and it is the most important rule to remember if you are placed under arrest. Your right to remain silent – and your right to have an attorney present during questioning – are basic constitutional rights.
The Fugitive was a blockbuster movie and a popular television series, but in real life – and this cannot be stressed strongly enough – it’s better to turn yourself in with an attorney’s help and let that attorney fight for justice on your behalf. A good defense attorney’s help is your right.