Criminal investigations and prosecutors that cross geographical borders have become more common. As a result, so have international extraditions.
The term “international extradition” refers to the process of bringing a fugitive who has fled from the United States to avoid prosecution either before or after being released on bail.
International extradition cases often involve challenging the actions of the authorities in the federal court system within two different counties.
For an international extradition case, the process is often governed by federal treaties and statutes. The process for international extradition is exercised exclusively by the federal government.
In fact, the states are not authorized to act independently because the extradition process must be negotiated through federal authorities. U.S. v. Rauscher, 119 U.S. 407, 7 S. Ct. 234, 30 L. Ed. 425 (1886).
Attorneys for International Extradition
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients in the United States who are facing extradition to another country. We also represent clients being held in another country while awaiting extradition back to the United States.
Your criminal defense attorney needs to understand any extradition treaty that exists between the United States and the foreign government as well as the procedural rules that apply.
In some cases, a person might leave the United States without knowing that they have been accused of a crime in Florida. When the person learns of the arrest warrant pending in Florida, fighting the charges can become more complicated if they live outside the United States.
We represent clients for serious criminal charges in both state and federal court.
Call 813-250-0500 today.
International Extraditions Between the United States and Other Countries
Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. Section 3181, international extraditions involve the delivery of an individual from the country where he or she is currently located to the country requesting the extradition for the purpose of facing prosecution or serving a prison sentence.
The treaties between the countries often govern the process for international extradition. In most cases, the extradition from one country to another is granted only when there is a treaty allowing the extradition between the two countries.
The authorities also sometimes recognize exceptions to the extradition treaties.
As a general rule, a country will not extradite a person for an act that it does not consider to be a crime within its own jurisdiction. Countries will not extradite a person for “political crimes.”
Many counties will refuse to extradite any person who might be subject to the death penalty or torture in the requesting country.
In some counties, extradition does not apply to its own citizens or visitors for any reason.
Challenging the Legality of an International Extradition
Challenges to the legality of international extradition should be brought during the early stages of the case. In Lugo v. State, 2 So.3d 1, 21 (Fla. 2008), the court held that a challenge to a prisoner’s extradition from the Bahamas was procedurally barred because of failure to challenge the extradition either at the trial level or on direct appeal.
Credit for Time Served While Awaiting Extradition to the U.S.
In Calafell v. State, 263 So. 3d 216 (Fla. 3d DCA 2019), the court considered whether a person should receive additional credit for time spent in custody in an Argentine jail awaiting extradition to Florida to face charges.
Section § 921.161(1), Fla. Stat., provides:
“A sentence of imprisonment shall not begin to run before the date it is imposed, but the court imposing a sentence shall allow a defendant credit for all of the time she or he spent in the county jail before sentence. The credit must be for a specified period of time and shall be provided for in the sentence.”
In Kronz v. State, 462 So.2d 450, 451 (Fla. 1985), the court held that although section 921.161(1) requires a trial judge to give credit for time served in Florida county jails pending disposition of criminal charges, it does not require awarding such credit for time spent in jails in other jurisdictions.
The court noted that “[t]he trial judge does, however, have the inherent discretionary authority to award credit for time served in other jurisdictions while awaiting transfer to Florida. In this latter circumstance, the trial judge should consider the appropriateness of an award of credit for time served when the defendant was incarcerated in another state solely because of the Florida offense for which he or she is being sentenced.” Id.
How International Extradition Impact the Adequate Oath Requirement
Under Florida law, an oath is only effective if the witness can be subjected to prosecution for perjury upon making a knowingly false statement.
So what happens when a person testifies via satellite from outside the United States in a case pending in Florida?
Whether the adequate oath requirement is met depends on whether the person is subject to prosecution in another country for perjury when the oath is administered in that other country.
In addition to other requirements, to meet the adequate oath requirement it must be established that there exists an extradition treaty between the witness’s country and the United States and that such a treaty permits extradition for the crime of perjury.
This article was last updated on Friday, August 23, 2019.