Extradition Issues

INTERSTATE EXTRADITION: THE DECISION TO WAIVE OR FIGHT EXTRADITION OR REMOVAL TO ANOTHER STATE OR FEDERAL COURT

Extradition, in the traditional sense, is the process involving the surrendering or returning of fugitives or suspects of criminal offenses between independent countries. Interstate rendition, often mistakenly referred to as interstate extradition, is not that process. If you or a loved one are sought to stand trial on misdemeanor or felony charges filed in another state, know that your presence outside the jurisdiction will only delay the inevitable: your arrest and subsequent transfer to the state seeking your prosecution. Therefore, the first course of action for persons facing extradition to New York or another state for criminal prosecution, is to seek out the help of top New York criminal defense attorneys who can both represent you at the state extradition proceedings and prepare your defense to the criminal case.

Interstate Extradition – Surrendering of Fugitives between States

Unlike international extradition where there is no obligation to extradite absent a treaty, states have an obligation to surrender persons found to reside in their borders who have an open arrest warrant in another state. An obligation enshrined in the Extradition Clause of the Federal Constitution. U.S. Const., art. IV, § 2, cl. 2. Nevertheless, certain procedures must be adhered to before you may be transferred to New York or another state for prosecution or service of a previously imposed sentence of incarceration. Therefore, the question frequently asked of top New York criminal defense lawyers by their clients is whether to waive these proceedings or contest them in a case involving interstate rendition.

The answer to this question depends, in large part, on the nature of the charges filed and whether, in the opinion of your experienced criminal defense attorney, waiving rendition is advantageous to your defense of the criminal case. For example, if, in your case, the charges filed are petty misdemeanors or low-level felonies – perhaps rendition itself is a direct result of your failure to appear in court after being issued a New York desk appearance ticket – agreeing to waive rendition can be a useful bargaining chip when negotiating a settlement of the underlying offenses with out-of-state prosecutors. Conversely, when the charges are more serious in nature, contesting rendition through the appeal process can atrophy the proceedings long enough to allow top New York criminal defense attorneys to investigate witnesses and gather evidence supporting your innocence in the criminal case. Whichever may be a fair reflection of your circumstances, know the decision whether to waive or contest rendition proceedings should only be made with the advice of counsel retained for the criminal case.

Distinguishing Interstate Extradition from Removal in a Federal Criminal Case

The obligation to surrender fugitives under the Extradition Clause of the Constitution applies only to criminal proceedings initiated by a state. In cases involving a federal indictment filed in a district court but the indicted party resides in another state or district, the process of their transfer after arrest is known as Removal. Governed by federal law, specifically, Rule 5 (c) of Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Removal between federal districts involves a hearing that is similar in function, if not form, to that required by Interstate Extradition. Proper documentation needs to be filed – including a certified copy of the arrest warrant – and your identity as the person named in the indictment must be confirmed at a hearing before a federal magistrate judge. Fed. R.Crim. Proc. 5 (c) (3).

Basically, the only issues to be determined at that Rule 5 hearing in the federal district of arrest, is whether a) you are that person named in the out of state federal indictment and b) whether you will be granted bail, i.e. permission to remain at liberty until your first appearance in that out of state federal case. Our experience in these sort of scenarios is that judges hearing a bail argument on a case in which the defendant is charged in another federal district often rely too heavily on the bail request of the out of district federal prosecutor, i.e., often a request for detention until the defendant can be transferred to the charging district. It is important, if possible, to get bail nevertheless in the jurisdiction where you are arrested even over the objections of the out of district prosecutor. Appearing in chains and an orange jumpsuit at your first appearance in the prosecuting district is, logically, a much harder sell for release on bail than appearing voluntarily. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman we have repeatedly had success in gaining bail for such out of district defendants over the objections of both the local and charging prosecutors even in cases charging violence. United States v. K.T., No. 5:99-CR-72-1-F (E.D.N.C. 2000).

Call us today if you or a loved one has been arrested on a case in which federal extradition or interstate rendition is an issue.