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Extradition To and From the United States: Overview of the Law and Recent Treaties

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Extradition is the formal surrender of a person by a State to another State for prosecution or punishment. Extradition to or from the United States is a creature of treaty. The United States has extradition treaties with over a hundred nations, although they are many countries with which it has no extradition treaty. International terrorism and drug trafficking have made extradition an increasingly important law enforcement tool. This is a brief overview of the adjustments made in recent treaties to accommodate American law enforcement interests, and then a nutshell overview of the federal law governing foreign requests to extradite a fugitive found in this country and a United States request for extradition of a fugitive found in a foreign country. Extradition treaties are in the nature of a contract and generate the most controversy with respect to those matters for which extradition may not be had. In addition to an explicit list of crimes for which extradition may be granted, most modern extradition treaties also identify various classes of offenses for which extradition may or must be denied. Common among these are provisions excluding purely military and political offenses capital offenses crimes that are punishable under only the laws of one of the parties to the treaty crimes committed outside the country seeking extradition crimes where the fugitive is a national of the country of refuge and crimes barred by double jeopardy or a statute of limitations. Extradition is triggered by a request submitted through diplomatic channels. In this country, it proceeds through the Departments of Justice and State and may be presented to a federal magistrate to order a hearing to determine whether the request is in compliance with an applicable treaty, whether it provides sufficient evidence to satisfy probable cause to believe that the fugitive committed the identified treaty offenses, and whether other treaty requirements have been met.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law

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