You may be reading this article out of curiosity or you may actually be facing extradition and are wondering what you can do about it, in either case, it is important for you to be aware of your rights and the legal process behind it. The Extradition of Fugitives Clause states that any fugitive who has fled from a state in which they have committed a crime is to be returned to that state. Extradition between states is usually done to maximize punishment and is almost impossible to fight, though there are steps you can take to ensure your freedom.
What is Extradition?
Extradition, as defined by American Law, refers to “the removal of a person from a requested state to a requesting state for criminal prosecution or punishment.” It involves the physical removal of a person from one place to another to face punishment or judgment.
One path you can take is to request a review of the extradition request. After making this request the court will formally review all the documents pertaining to the reason and purpose behind your extradition. This can lengthen the proceedings and give you a chance to review your options with your lawyer.
Fighting an extradition case can be difficult depending on the crimes, in many cases, the legal process behind it can be both lengthy and expensive. If you are ever faced with a warrant for your extradition don’t try to fight it on your own, instead get a lawyer.
To Fight or Not to Fight?
To fight an extradition case you will need to acquire a Governor’s warrant rather than the one submitted through law enforcement by the requesting state. This is done to lengthen the process of the extradition and is important because it can keep you out of jail. Most of the time an extradition is done to a state where the penalties are harsher than the state the individual is being extradited from, so always request a Governors Warrant.
The crime could be a minor one in one state yet be a serious offense in another. Before waiving your right to fight extradition it is crucial that you are aware of the laws of both your state and the requested extradition state. Remember though, this all depends on the context of the crime committed as it may be to your advantage to waive your right to fight extradition and comply with the prosecution. Always consult your lawyer in these matters as it can be the difference between a light slap on the wrist and a long drawn out legal battle.
If you decide to fight your extradition you must be aware that you will have to travel back and forth between your state and the state you are being prosecuted in.
If you have decided to litigate extradition and requested a Governors Warrant and a formal review of the extradition request, a county judge will set a bond. A bond is set by the judge to ensure your compliance with the court such as appearing when requested or not leaving the state when requested. After the judge sets your bond you can pay it with cash or through a bondsman.
Remember permission is required from a judge when traveling between states. States cooperate and share information with each other so keep this in mind when deciding on your strategy when fighting your case.
An advantage of choosing this route for your case is that instead of being judged and persecuted based on the state laws of the requesting state, you will be persecuted based on the laws of the state you were in when the extradition request was sent. This can work to your advantage as in most cases your state has more lenient laws than the extradited state.
Many times a prosecutor will request an extradition to a state that has extremely harsh penalties compared to your own state. This is usually done to maximise punishment and make the hearing impossible for you to fight.
A good example of this is the infamous case of Ross Ulbricht, the founder and operating of an illegal darknet marketplace known as the Silk Road. Ross was arrested in San Francisco, yet his hearing, trial, and subsequent prosecution was done in Manhattan, New York.
This was done because the charges he was tried for would receive a harsher punishment in that state rather than his own.
Keep in mind though many times it is almost impossible to fight an extradition request and all you can really do is lengthen the time it takes for you to be extradited.
Submitting to Extradition
There are times when it can be to your advantage to simply submit to the extradition request and waive your right to litigate an extradition. This can lessen the punishment doled out by the prosecutor and even better your chances of cutting a deal with them if that option is available to you.
This path can have its pitfalls though as this could demonstrate a lack of guilt to the lawyers handling your case and may even cause the judge to withhold your bond. You would have to sit in jail and wait as your lawyers started another legal battle to secure your freedom during the trial.
Keep all this in mind when consulting with your own legal team and remember the context of your own crimes and how they relate to a final verdict. Educate yourself and consult your lawyers because at the end of the day it’s your freedom that’s on the line and no one else’s.
Consulting Your Legal Team
Whether you decide to fight extradition or not remember to focus on fighting your own case as well. If the judge and prosecutor are doing all they can to convict you, fighting extradition could be a crucial step to securing a fair trial. Always consult your legal team in these matters and try to use the extradition to your advantage by prolonging the case itself.
Remember that this can be through requesting a Governors Warrant and through a formal review of your extradition request. Use the time gained to your advantage to strategize with your legal team about the many options you have. The court may try to scare you into accepting an extradition request, keep in mind the importance of due process and the fact that you are innocent until proven guilty.