For the past twenty-five years, I've been handling both state and federal criminal cases and the issue of extradition comes up all the time. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a complicated term and therefore, people don't understand it and don't know how to handle it. Where it usually comes up is when somebody has a warrant in a location and they're basically what's called a fugitive from justice and therefore, whatever jurisdiction is looking for them puts the warrant out and when they get caught – if they're in a different state – then they're going to be extradited back to the area where the warrant is.
For example, if somebody is caught in Los Angeles because the police come in contact with them and run their finger prints and see that they have a warrant in a state like Texas for example, then they are going to be brought into the downtown court, department 30, which is the main arraignment court that deals with arraignments and extraditions and they're going to make a determination as to whether or not they've got the right person and whether or not the state where the warrant is wanted to extradite them back to that location.
Extradition And An Identity Hearing
In order to make the determination as to whether or not a person will be extradited or sent or shipped to a location where they have a warrant, they are entitled to what is called an identity hearing. Basically, what that is is it's a hearing where the court that has them is determining if they are the person that is being sought in a different jurisdiction.
So, it's a real hearing where the prosecutors have to prove that yes, this is the guy that they're looking for. This is the guy that has the warrant in the other state and if they can prove that then that would be step one towards extraditing the person to the location where the warrant is. Step two is obviously the jurisdiction that the warrant is out of actually has to come to get him.
Unless there's some sort of an agreement – for example, between Los Angeles and Texas in our above example where Los Angeles moves him to Texas, usually Texas is going to have to agree to come get him. And sometimes for whatever reason, they don't do that. They can only hold the person for so long before they have to let them go. So, unless Texas comes to get him in our example, then the person will be released and that happens all the time.
Waiving Identity For Purposes Of Extradition
If you know that you're the person they are looking for, it's probably just a good idea just to waive the identity hearing and agree that you're the person, because the bottom line is eventually you're going to have to face that warrant and why just sit in custody waiting when you know they're going to be able to prove that you're the person they are looking for.
It doesn't make any sense. You're just burning time when the inevitable is going to be that you are going to be found to be the person and you're likely going to be extradited. So, in that case, you would waive the identity hearing and that speeds up the process of getting you to that other state and dealing with the case.
As far as being extradited to another state, then you're going to want to hire a lawyer if it's a state case in that particular local area where the warrant is pending. So, your lawyer in Los Angeles, for example, could help coordinate getting a lawyer in Texas. If it's a federal case, and you have a federal criminal defense attorney, then obviously your federal attorney can assist you in any of the states in the United States because they're able to do that because it's all the same federal sentencing guidelines.
Bail As It Relates To Extradition Hearings
Another issue that comes up is bail as it relates to extradition hearings. When it comes to bail, what you have to look at is – okay, is there a bail in the state that has the warrant. In that case, we can get a bond company out there to post the bail. Then you have to look at – okay, is there a bail n the location that has you.
For example, in the example that we're using in Los Angeles you could get a bond company to set a bail, or once it's shown that a bond is posted in the state that has the warrant, then a lot of times the Judge in Los Angeles will just let you go because you have a bond posted and now you're going to show up, or if they can prove that you actually showed up in court, then they will take the warrant out of their system.
So, when it comes to this sort of stuff in extradition, it's a little bit complicated so you need to get an attorney who's been down this road before and knows how to handle these types of cases, so it's done as swiftly and efficiently as possible so the person in custody can get out as quick as possible.