Immigration Law

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Extradition Laws

Extradition is the formal process by which a fugitive is surrendered by one country or state to another country or state to stand trial or be punished. In the United States, when foreign countries are involved, the extradition is regulated by a treaty between the United States government and the government of that foreign country. This kind of extradition is different from interstate extradition, or interstate rendition.

Listed below are a few questions answered by immigration lawyers on extradition related issues.

If a U.S. national committed a crime involving counterfeit merchandise ten years ago, can the U.S. extradite him/her back to Italy to face a sentence?

If the Italian government requested extradition for this crime, the United States can extradite the individual. Since it’s an old crime, and one that doesn’t appear to be a very high profile one based on the limited information provided, it seems likely that the odds of this happening are 50-50.

Can you give me legal information on extraditions for United States citizens to Nicaragua?

There is a long-standing extradition treaty between the United States and Nicaragua. This treaty allows for both governments to extradite legal permanent residents and citizens of each country to be extradited to the other country if these individuals commit crimes defined in the treaty within U.S./Nicaragua borders. To put it differently, if a U.S. citizen commits a crime that is described in the treaty, in Nicaragua, the individual could be extradited to Nicaragua.

Click on the link below for a copy of the treaty. The crimes for which an individual can be extradited are also listed. Finally, extradition under the treaty is not considered mandatory, but discretionary if the citizen's country thinks it is appropriate to do so.

My friend is facing criminal charges but there is no warrant. Can he move to Samoa or American Samoa and not face extradition if sought after by the United States?

Extradition is a real possibility since American Samoa is an unincorporated United States territory. Besides this, Samoa has also signed an extradition treaty with the United States. So both jurisdictions would not be safe for a person facing criminal charges. The more sensible thing would be to take the advice of local legal counsel before attempting to move out of the country.

My fiancée who is in Mexico wants to come back to the U.S. to get married. Can he get a fiancée visa to enter the country even though he has an arrest warrant against him?

If there is an arrest warrant out for him, the government will not grant him a visa. What will happen is that the consul will inform the FBI in Mexico about his whereabouts and will get help from the Mexican authorities to arrest him. Following this, they would initiate extradition proceedings to bring him back to the U.S. to face charges.

If a U.S. citizen gets arrested and convicted in federal court and becomes a citizen of another country while still in prison, can he get extradited to his new country to serve the remainder of his sentence?

This is not likely. Extradition occurs when a person commits a crime in another country and that country wants to prosecute him on their soil for the crime. In that case, it wouldn't matter if the person was a citizen of that country or not.

All extradition treaties that the United States is part of need formal requests for extradition, supported with the right documents. Since formal requests can take time to prepare, most treaties allow the government to perform a provisional arrest of the fugitive in urgent cases. Once the U.S. government requests provisional arrest pursuant to the treaty, as soon as the fugitive is found, he/she will be arrested and detained (or released in bail, in some countries). Following this, the U.S. government must submit a formal extradition request with all the necessary documents within the stipulated time as mentioned in the treaty.

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