First proposed in 1979 and enacted in 1982, the U.S. & Colombia extradition treaty has faced some controversy in the last few years. After former Colombia President Alvaro Uribe declared the treaty illegal in 2016, due to the fact it had never been properly ratified in Colombia; it was uncertain what would happen to current extradition cases and prior cases handled over the past 30 years. However, the treaty was ruled constitutional by the U.S. in 2017 and continues to be used today. Call the Kushner Law Group now to protect your rights. Our experienced domestic and international extradition attorneys are here to guide you through this process.
Perhaps the most important section of the treaty, Article 1 states that each country will have an obligation to extradite when:
1. The Contracting Parties agree to extradite to each other, subject to the provisions described in this Treaty, persons found in the territory of one of the Contracting Parties who have been charged with an offense, found guilty of committing an offense, or are wanted by the other Contracting Party for the enforcement of a judicially pronounced penalty involving a deprivation of liberty for an offense, committed within the territory of the Requesting State.
2. When the offense has been committed outside the territory of the Requesting State, the Requested State shall grant extradition, subject to the provisions of this Treaty, if: (a) Its laws would provide for the punishment of such an offense in similar circumstances; or (b) The person sought is a national of the Requesting State, and that State has jurisdiction to try that person.
This means that the U.S. & Colombia have an obligation to extradite to each other when someone has committed or been charged with a crime that falls within the scope of this treaty, and the offense occurred within the jurisdiction of the U.S. or Colombia, the offense is punishable within both jurisdictions, or the offense occurred somewhere else but is punishable within one of the jurisdictions.
U.S. & Colombia Extradition Treaty Process
Extradition is a process that is not started thoughtlessly. Because of its difficulty legally and logistically, it is reserved for serious offenses and highly public cases. When it comes to extradition between the United States and Colombia, the offenses that qualify for extradition can be found within their extradition treaty. When the United States requests extradition from Columbia, or vice versa, they will file a petition that includes details about the defendant and the crime. Colombia may then choose to either arrest the defendant or ignore the petition in accordance with their established extradition treaty. Usually before an extradition request is sent; however, there is an extradition hearing to determine the merits of an extradition, and whether the appropriate documents are in order.
Basic Elements of an Extradition Hearing
While it may vary slightly from state to state and country to country, during an extradition hearing, there are usually four elements the prosecution must prove:
1. That there exists a valid extradition treaty between the two jurisdictions. This is usually the easiest part of the hearing and is not argued or contested.
2. That the defendant the prosecution is requesting be extradited is really the person that they are charging with a crime. Evidence the prosecution will submit here includes fingerprints, photographs, and handwriting samples.
3. That the crime the prosecution is charging the defendant with is covered within the scope of the extradition treaty, or that the crime is considered a serious offense in both jurisdictions.
4. That the prosecution has probable cause the defendant in question committed the crime. The prosecution must demonstrate probable cause that the person they are charging with a crime is the one who committed it.
There are a few defenses common to extradition cases that can be applied to the U.S. & Colombia Extradition Treaty. They are:
1. Demonstrating that the prosecution has not established probable cause. If the prosecution has not established probable cause that the defendant is the one who committed the crime, they cannot be extradited.
2. Using double jeopardy standards or prior prosecution laws. Many states and countries have statues that prohibit trying someone for a crime more than once. If the defendant has already been tried within that jurisdiction for the crime, they cannot be tried for it again within that jurisdiction.
3. Using statute of limitations laws. Most crimes have a statute of limitations within which one may be charged. If the defendant was not charged within the statute of limitations for said crime, they cannot be tried.
International extraditions are complex processes that demand experienced representation. The Kushner Law Group has successfully represented our clients in extradition matters from The Republic of Uganda to Columbia to the Co-Operative Republic of Guyana to Iceland. Call us now to begin your defense strategy at (718) 504-1440.