What are International and U.S. Extradition Laws

International and U.S. extraditions are complicated matters that demand experienced legal representation. If you or someone you know has been targeted for extradition, the most important thing you can do to help your case is to contact an attorney who has experience in this area of the law as soon as possible.

Extradition is the process of transferring someone charged with a criminal offense from one jurisdiction to another. In the U.S. this can be a transfer of a defendant from one state to another state, or it can be a more complicated transfer process between countries. Usually, the purpose of an extradition is to allow the defendant to be put on trial in the jurisdiction where he or she is being charged. U.S. extradition statues are covered in 18 U.S. Code Chapter 209. Call the Kushner Law Group now if you or someone you know is being extradited. We have successfully represented our clients by protecting their rights in extradition related matters.

The International and US Extraditions Process

Extraditions are complicated processes that U.S. states and foreign governments take seriously.  Extraditions between state jurisdictions in the United States are codified by state laws and statutes while the processes for extraditions between countries are regulated by extradition treaties between the countries. For example, when a state petitions for an extradition from another state, the person being extradited must be considered a fugitive from the state.

For someone to qualify as a fugitive from the state, the state requesting an extradition must provide a:

“copy of an indictment found or an affidavit made before a magistrate of any State or Territory, charging the person demanded with having committed treason, felony, or other crime, certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the State or Territory.”

On the other hand, when the United States request extradition from another government they will file a petition that includes details about the defendant and the crime. The foreign government may then either take the defendant into custody or ignore the petition in accordance with their established extradition treaty. Generally, a country will only grant an extradition for a crime clearly defined in both countries as discussed in their treaty. In both cases, after the initial petitions are filed, an extradition hearing will be held.

Basic Elements of an Extradition Hearing

While it may vary slightly from treaty to treaty, during an extradition hearing, generally there are four elements the prosecution must prove:

1. That there is a valid extradition treaty between the two countries or state jurisdictions. This is almost always quickly proven with little room for arguments as there is either a treaty or there isn’t.
2. That the defendant in custody is the person the petitioning government is requesting. Normally, evidence submitted at this stage includes some combination of fingerprints, photographs, and handwriting samples.
3. That the offense the defendant is charged with falls within the extradition treaty, or that the offense is considered a crime in both countries.
4. That there is probable cause that the defendant committed the offense.

Common Defenses

There are a few defenses common to extradition cases. They are:

1. Demonstrating that the prosecution does not have probable cause. If a defendant can demonstrate that there isn’t enough adequate probable cause that the defendant committed the offense in question, or that the prosecution’s probable cause is insufficient; the extradition hearing will be unable to continue.
2. Demonstrating double jeopardy or prior prosecution. If the defendant has already been prosecuted for the crime in one jurisdiction and acquitted of it; they can usually present this as an affirmative defense.
3. Arguing for a statute of limitations. In some situations, if enough time has passed after the offense was committed it may longer be prosecutable.

The Kushner Law Group has had years of experience defending and protecting the rights of our clients in both New York State and the Federal courts. We have won successful results on behalf of our clients and are here to help guide you through the prosecutorial process if you are facing extradition at the federal or state level. To learn more about the Kushner Law Group, click here to see how we can help protect your rights.  Call us now for a free consultation at (718) 504-1440.