How Does Foreign Extradition Work In Practice?

Foreign extradition is the process by which a criminal found within the United States, is handed over to another country for the sake of criminal proceedings in that country. This process is regulated by treaty and is handled by the federal government. The United States has agreements with over 100 countries. Often these treaties cover all acts that are considered crimes in both countries; however, some only apply to specific crimes. There are times when extradition is allowed without the presence of a treaty, but this will often only occur if the country offers reciprocity. In other words, the United States will not extradite to one country in the absence of a treaty unless the other country will extradite to the United States. The United States has even been willing to extradite people to another country, even when that country would not do the same. The bottom line: America is willing to extradite those within its borders to another country. If you are at risk of foreign extradition, contact one of our foreign extradition attorneys today.

What is an extraditable offense?

Extradition treaties must lay out specific offenses that warrant extradition. In cases where the specific offense is not listed in the treaty, extradition will not be allowed. Many countries, including the United States, may also refuse to extradite offenses that allow for the death penalty in the requesting country.

How does extradition work in practice?

Requests for extradition must be submitted diplomatically, usually from an embassy of the country requesting extradition to the Department of State (DOS). The DOS will review the request and determine if it is covered by treaty. It may also evaluate questions of foreign policy. If the DOS approves, an attorney will send a report to the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs (OIA). The request will then be sent to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the relevant district. They will then obtain a warrant and make an arrest. The fugitive will then be brought before a federal judge for a hearing to determine if the fugitive is extraditable. If the judge determines they are, they will pass the record to the Secretary of State who will make the final decision. Agencies within the country will then arrange transfer with the foreign country.

What can I do if I am at risk of being extradited?

Contact us as soon as you know you are at risk of foreign extradition. At the outset of your case, we will contact counsel in the country that seeks your extradition. This is a crucial step, as if you are successfully transferred you will have someone already well versed in your case. Bail is often difficult in these cases, and extremely rare. The decision at the federal hearing cannot be appealed. We can, however, file something called a writ of habeus corpus. This challenges the governments detainment of you. To be successful, we must argue that extradition violates the constitution, federal law, or the relevant extradition treaty.

Contact us today.

Foreign extradition is one of the most complex areas of the law. It is extremely high stakes and you need an experienced attorney by your side who knows the ins and outs of the process. Foreign policy should not outweigh the merits of your individual case when you are at risk of being extradited. At Altman & Altman LLP, we can help. We have over 50 years of experienced defending the accused and upholding their rights in situations like this. If you are facing foreign extradition, call us today.

Call us for a free consultation today at 617.492.3000 or toll-free at 800.481.6199.

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