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Extradition Warrants in California Criminal Courts

Extradition Warrants in California Criminal Courts
Extradition into California is when a fugitive wanted by the state criminal court is extradited from another state or country back to California.

It is not uncommon for a defendant in a criminal case in one jurisdiction to be arrested by law enforcement in a different jurisdiction either because the defendant has fled to avoid prosecution or simply because the defendant was unaware of a pending warrant and relocated to a new area.

The court in which the criminal case was filed retains jurisdiction over the charges against the defendant who is no longer in the jurisdiction and the defendant's personal presence is required before the case can be resolved. 

This creates the problem of how to hail an out-of-state defendant back into court in the jurisdiction in which the alleged crime occurred.

People who have an extradition warrant are commonly known as a "fugitive from justice."

Extradition into California is the process where a fugitive wanted by the state criminal court is extradited from another state or country back to California.

Most often, this is due to the individual violating the terms of their:

  • bail,
  • probation,
  • parole, or
  • they are alleged to have committed another crime.

The extradition process addresses this problem. The 50 states all have a mutually binding agreement to hold a defendant who is charged in the state criminal courts of the other states, upon request by the charging state, until a pickup can be accomplished and the defendant can be transported back to the jurisdiction which has authority over the case. 

Under California extradition laws, the Governor can bring back a fugitive from justice to stand trial, face sentencing, return to jail, or for a hearing on their alleged probation or parole violation.

To give readers useful information about extradition warrant, our California criminal defense lawyers will review below.

California Extradition Process

California signed onto the “Uniform Criminal Extradition Act,” that require someone arrested in another state to be returned to California to face their criminal charges.

However, before someone can be extradited, there must be a court hearing to make sure the warrant is valid.

The court decides whether the person in custody is in fact the:

  • person listed in the warrant, or;
  • if there are valid criminal charges.

During this period, the person remains in custody and this process typically takes several weeks to resolve. 

There are several considerations which are of common concern to defendants facing extradition, and to their family members. The first is timing. 

Unlike with an in-jurisdiction arrest, meaning an arrest by a local agency located in the same area in which the court case is located, the defendant will almost certainly not be arraigned and processed through the system within 48 hours. 

In fact, depending on the speed at which the charging state arranges the pickup of the defendant, the defendant pending extradition could wait more than 30 days in custody in the arresting state before being picked up. In the meantime, the defendant will be brought to court in the arresting state for an extradition hearing. 

The defendant has several options. 

Waive or Challenge Extradition

The first is to “waive,” extradition, meaning to:

  • acknowledge the requesting state's right to pick them up and simply await transportation. 

Even in this case, the defendant may simply get lucky in that the requesting state is too busy or lacks sufficient interest in the case to effect the pickup. In this case, once statutory deadlines pass, the defendant must be released by the arresting state.

In other cases, the defendant may have a sufficient basis to challenge the extradition.

The most common grounds for challenging extradition is identity. In a country of hundreds of millions of people, it is not unheard of for someone with the exact same name and date of birth to be falsely accused of a crime committed out of jurisdiction by someone else. 

In these cases, the defendant would assert their right to a formal extradition hearing at which the government would have the burden of proving that they are in fact the individual sought by the requesting state. 

A common misconception is that the merits of the underlying criminal case in the requesting state are at issue at an extradition hearing. They are not. 

The defendant may very well have a viable defense to the underlying out-of-jurisdiction case such as self-defense, an alibi, reasonable doubt, or another defense.

Unfortunately, the defendant must still be extradited and then assert those defenses in state court in the arresting state.

Bail Pending Extradition

One of the most commonly raised issues in extradition proceedings is the question of bail pending extradition. The presumption is that defendants pending extradition to another state must remain in custody. 

Unlike arrests in in-jurisdiction criminal cases, the defendant typically does not have the right or the ability to simply post cash bail and secure their release from law enforcement's custody. 

This is a common sense rule in that extradition implies that the defendant travelled at least some distance across state lines after committing a crime. 

Knowing that another state's authorities are attempting to arrest the defendant, the chances of flight are high if the defendant would be released from the arresting state's custody. 

However, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make contact with the prosecuting agency in the requesting jurisdiction. 

If the out-of-state prosecutor can be convinced to stipulate to a self-surrender – meaning the defendant will be released by the arresting state on their promise to travel to the requesting state forthwith and surrender to court there – the defendant's release will almost always be approved by the arresting state. 

Again, the requesting state is the party with the interest in the defendant's custody status. 

The arresting state's judge will generally be amenable to approving any conditions of release which the requesting state is comfortable with.

California Extradition Warrant Attorney

Even in situations where the demand for your extradition was granted, our criminal attorneys can provide you with legal representation to make sure your rights are not violated.

We can also make arguments for your release on bail while waiting for extradition, or even negotiate for reduced bail or an OR release so you can return to California.

If you or a family member has been arrested for a criminal offense in an out-of-state jurisdiction and require defense counsel to navigate the extradition process, contact our team of experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for an initial consultation. 

We have decades of experience representing California residents facing interstate extradition. 

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-rated criminal defense law firm with a track record of success.

We are located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067 and 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.

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