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Interstate Extradition

In the U.S., each state is sovereign and governs the people within its territory.  This does not mean that one can commit a crime in a state and escape to another state.  Extradition is the legal surrender of a suspected or convicted criminal to the jurisdiction of another state, country, or government for trial or punishment.  The extradition process among the states is governed by the U.S. Constitution, Federal statute, and state laws.  Article IV, Section II, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution is known as the Extradition Clause.  The extradition clause requires states, upon demand of another state, to deliver a fugitive from justice who has committed treason, a felony, or other crime to the State from which the fugitive has fled.  Interstate extradition is a summary and mandatory executive proceeding.  The extradition proceedings are designed to enable each state to bring offenders to the state where the alleged crime was committed[i].

Statutory requirements[ii] to extradite a fugitive are:

  • An official demand from an executive authority of the jurisdiction from which the accused has fled;
  • The executive making the demand must produce a copy of an indictment found or an affidavit from a magistrate of any state or territory;
  • The indictment copy or affidavit must describe the charge of treason, felony, or other crime;
  • The indictment copy or affidavit must be certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the state or territory from where the accused has fled;
  • The request receiving authority must arrest the accused.  The receiving authority must notify the requesting executive authority to receive the fugitive.
  • The authority demanding the accused must appear to receive the prisoner within thirty days of arrest.
  • The prisoner must be discharged on the failure of demanding authority to appear within thirty days of arrest;

The asylum state is not concerned with the sufficiency of the indictment or affidavit as a criminal pleading.  The question of sufficiency is generally left to the demanding state[iii].  Moreover, the executive authority of the asylum state can withhold a rendition request until the fugitive has completed a prison sentence imposed by a court of the asylum state.  However, extradition is a matter of executive discretion and not a personal right of a fugitive.  The executive of an asylum state is entitled to waive the right to retain the prisoner and can surrender the fugitive to the demanding state, while s/he is undergoing punishment in the asylum state[iv].  Additionally, a demanding state can terminate extradition proceedings at any time prior to the return of the prisoner[v].

[i] Josey v. Galloway, 482 So. 2d 376, 381 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 1985).

[ii] 18 USCS § 3182.

[iii] Ex parte Gore, 162 Tex. Crim. 128, 129-130 (Tex. Crim. App. 1955).

[iv] State v. Robbins, 124 N.J. 282, 288 (N.J. 1991).

[v] Massey v. Wilson, 199 Colo. 121 (Colo. 1980)

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