When stories about the requested extradition of those accused of a crime make the news, they often involve extradition to the U.S. from another country or vice versa. The U.S. has extradition treaties with many other countries, although not all.
Even when there is a treaty in place, there are exceptions, such as if the charge involves an alleged act that's not a crime in the U.S. or if the person being extradited could be subject to torture on the death penalty. For that reason, some countries won't extradite people to the U.S. if they could potentially face the death penalty.
What's Involved in State-to-State Extraditions?
Most cases of extradition involving Americans, however, are between states. The laws are more clear and consistent than in many cases involving international extradition. When people are charged with a crime in one state, they can't escape the legal consequences by traveling or moving to another state. That's because under the U.S. Constitution (Article IV, Section 2, to be precise), states have the obligation to work to ensure that people charged with a crime are "delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime."
There is a legal process that law enforcement officials and the courts in both states must follow to have someone extradited. The state where the alleged crime occurred must make an official request to have the accused person extradited.
What Are the Court's Responsibilities?
A court in the state where that is now located must review that request. If everything is in order, the court issues an arrest warrant and then holds one or more extraditions before the person is taken to the requesting state. It's the court's obligation to ensure that the person has, indeed, been charged with a crime and that the person who has been taken into custody is that person.
It's not the role of the court in the state where the accused has been located to evaluate cases involving the crime. Its responsibility is to ensure that the extradition procedure is followed correctly. States are obligated to inform people whom they've been requested to extradite of the extradition request, the crime for which they've been charged and their right to an attorney. Specific state laws regarding extradition procedures may vary. However, they cannot conflict with the overriding federal extradition laws.
If you or a loved one is facing extradition, it's essential to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. He or she can make sure that the proper procedures are being followed according to state and federal law and work to protect your rights.
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