It's a very common occurrence for a defendant in a criminal case in one jurisdiction to be arrested by law enforcement in another jurisdiction because:
- they fled to avoid getting prosecuted, or
- they simply didn't know there was a pending warrant when they moved.
Any defendant who has an active extradition warrant is called a “fugitive from justice.”
The criminal court where the case was filed maintains jurisdiction over the charges that were filed against the defendant, even though they no longer live there, and their personal appearance in court will be necessary to resolve the case.
So, this situation creates an issue on how to get the defendant back to the court that holds jurisdiction where the crime occurred.
What is “Extradition”?
Extradition into California is a legal process where a “fugitive from justice” who is wanted by a criminal court is extradited from another state or even another country back to the state of California.
In most cases, the extradition warrant was issued by the judge due to the defendant:
The extradition process addresses the issue of getting a defendant back to the court that holds jurisdiction over their criminal case.
Mutually binding agreement
All 50 states have a mutually binding agreement that they will hold a defendant charged outside state criminal courts, if requested by the charging state, until a pickup can be arranged.
This simply means the defendant will be transported back to the jurisdiction which holds the legal authority over their case.
According to California's extradition laws, the Governor is allowed to bring back a “fugitive from justice” in order to:
- stand trial,
- face sentencing,
- return to jail, or
- for a hearing on the allegations of a probation or parole violation.
To give readers a better understanding on California extradition warrants, our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys are providing a review below.
What is the California Extradition Process?
California is part of the “Uniform Criminal Extradition Act,” requiring someone who was arrested in another state to be returned in order to face justice for their criminal charges.
It should be noted, however, before anyone can be extradited back to California, a court hearing is required to determine if the warrant is actually valid. The court decides:
- whether the person in custody is the same person listed on the warrant, or
- if the criminal charges against the person are valid.
During this process, the defendant will remain incarcerated, which can often take several weeks to resolve all the issues.
There are many considerations which cause a concern to defendants who are facing extradition.
The first major concern is timing
For example, anyone arrested on an outstanding warrant within the same jurisdiction, meaning an arrest by local police where the court case is located, will be processed through the system within a few days.
If the defendant was arrested outside the court jurisdiction, they will almost certainly not be arraigned and processed through the system within 48 hours.
In fact, depending on how fast the charging state can arrange a pickup, the defendant pending extradition might have to wait over 30 days in custody in the arresting state.
During this process, the defendant will appear in the arresting state court for an extradition hearing, where they have options discussed below.
What Does Waive or Challenge Extradition Mean?
If a defendant is to “waive” extradition, it means they recognize the state has the right to pick them up and they will wait to be transported back.
In some cases, even when a defendant waives extradition, they might get lucky because the demanding state is:
- too busy to arrange a pick-up, or
- have no interest in pursuing the case.
If the statutory deadline passes, then the defendant has to be released by the arresting state.
Challenging extradition on the basis of proper “identity”
There are other situations where the defendant could have sufficient legal grounds to challenge the extradition, such as the issue of identity.
Since the United States has a population of hundreds of millions, it's not that uncommon for a person to have the same name and date of birth to be falsely accused of a crime committed by another person.
In these situations, a defendant has the right to request a formal extradition hearing where the government must prove they are in fact the person wanted by the requesting state.
It should be noted that the actual merits of the underlying criminal case by the requesting state are not an issue at an extradition hearing.
The defendant might have a valid defense to the underlying out-of-jurisdiction case, including:
- lack of probable cause
- reasonable doubt,
- false accusation,
- unlawful search and seizure.
Unfortunately, the defendant will still face extradition where they will have to challenge the charges in a California criminal court.
Can I Get Bail Pending Extradition?
A common issue during an extradition proceeding is the discussion of potential bail for the defendant to be released from custody.
These is a strong presumption in court that any defendant who has pending extradition to another state must remain in custody.
This is much different than an in-jurisdiction criminal case where most defendants have the right to post cash bail and get released from law enforcement's custody.
It should be noted that the term extradition implies a defendant travelled at least some distance to another state after they committed a crime.
It's also presumed that when a defendant knows another state wants to arrest them and bring them back, it's highly likely they are a flight risk if released from custody of the arresting state.
Arranging a self-surrender
The defendant's criminal defense lawyer attorney can make contact with the prosecuting agency in the requesting jurisdiction.
In some cases, it might be possible to persuade the out-of-state prosecutor to stipulate to a self-surrender. This means a defendant would be released from custody by the arresting state on their:
- promise to travel to the requesting state, and
- surrender to court there.
The requesting state obviously has the most interest in the defendant's custody status.
The judge in the arresting state is normally open to review and approve any conditions of release which the requesting state is comfortable with.
Criminal Defense Lawyers for a California Extradition Warrant
If the demand for your extradition was granted by the arresting state court, our criminal attorneys will give you legal representation to ensure your legal rights are not violated.
Our attorneys can make arguments with the court in an attempt to get you released on bail pending extradition.
Depending on the criminal case, we might also be able to negotiate to get the bail reduced or even an own recognizance release so you can make the trip back to California on your own.
If you or a member of your family was arrested for a warrant in an out-of-state jurisdiction and needs legal counsel to assist in navigating the extradition process, contact our team of Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to review the details.
Our law firm has many years of experience in representing California residents facing interstate extradition.
Cron, Israels & Stark is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm representing clients throughout Southern California, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, San Fernando Valley, Riverside, and San Bernardino.
Our main office is located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We also have an office at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.
Contact our office for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.