Extradition is the process by which an individual is delivered from state or nation where he is located to the requesting state or nation in order to face prosecution or to serve a sentence. The participants in an extradition proceeding are either the two nations or two states and the individual.

State-to-State Extradition

The United States Constitution provides for extradition of an individual who is facing prosecution, has had a warrant issued in his or her name, or is facing sentencing. Usually an extradition hearing will take place in the state in which the individual was found and the individual will be returned to the requesting state. During the extradition hearing, the individual has the right to counsel and the right to challenge the validity of a warrant issued. The individual may also waive his right to an extradition hearing.

Nation-to-Nation Extradition

Extradition from nation to nation can be much trickier than extradition from state to state. Extradition is usually carried out pursuant to a treaty between two or more nations. Currently, the United States has extradition treaties with more than 100 nations. Extradition is subject to the laws and procedures of the nation where the individual is located. Whether or not the individual was cooperative and whether or not he obtained legal advice may influence if the individual is ultimately extradited to the requesting nation and the manner in which he is prosecuted or sentenced in the requesting nation.

General considerations with respect to extraditing an individual to the requesting nation include:

  • the seriousness of the crime committed the fact that the offense is a crime in both the requesting and requested nations
  • the entitlement to a fair trial in the requesting nation
  • the similarity in penalties for the crime in the two nations

Nations which do not have the death penalty in effect, such as many European nations, will only permit extradition if the receiving nation agrees that the death penalty will not be applied.