Imagine this: You are living a normal life in the United States. One day, as you are sipping your morning coffee, there is a knock on the door. It is law enforcement, informing you that a foreign country seeks your extradition for a crime they allege you committed there. Panic sets in as you wonder, "Can I really be sent to another country to face trial?"
Extradition is a formal process where one country asks another to surrender a suspected or convicted criminal. It is important to understand that not all extradition requests are granted. The United States has treaties with several countries, each specifying the legal grounds upon which extradition can occur.
Key Factors Affecting Extradition
There are several key factors a court considers whether to extradite or not:
- Dual Criminality: The alleged act must be a crime in both countries.
- Extradition Treaty: The U.S. has extradition treaties with 100 countries. However, the absence of a treaty can make extradition unlikely. Some of the countries that do not have a treaty with the U.S. include: China; Indonesia; Iran; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Vietnam; Venezuela; Cuba; Bolivia; Armenia; Central African Republic and Bangladesh.
- Political Offenses: Extradition is generally not granted for political crimes.
- Death Penalty: Some countries may refuse extradition if the person could face the death penalty.
- Habeas Corpus: You may challenge your detention through a Writ of Habeas Corpus. This type of Writ is used to bring a prisoner or detainee before a court to determine the confinement is legally justified.
The Extradition Process
The extradition process from a foreign country to the United States, as described in 18 U.S.C. § 3184, begins with the U.S. sending a request, typically through its embassy, to the Department of State and subsequently to the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs (OIA). This request usually includes the necessary formal documents as required by the treaty, or it may request a provisional arrest.
The OIA evaluates these extradition requests and passes them on to the district where the wanted person is believed to be. An Assistant U.S. Attorney is then responsible for obtaining an arrest warrant.
Following this, a court hearing is conducted to examine the evidence of criminality. If the evidence is deemed adequate as per the treaty standards, it is officially recognized, and the person is detained in jail while awaiting extradition. The OIA works in collaboration with the foreign government to arrange the transfer of the individual.
Once the extradition hearing is complete, it cannot be appealed. However, the person being extradited has the right to apply for a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Should such a Writ be granted, the decision of the district court on this matter can be appealed.
Extradition Defense Lawyers
Our law firm has handled numerous extradition cases, and we are here to provide expert legal guidance. Understanding your rights and the legal avenues available to you is crucial in such dire situations. Knowledge is power, and having professional legal guidance increases the chances of a favorable outcome. Contact us for a free consultation at 213-481-6811 and learn what legal options are available to you.