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Posted on February 21, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Extradition Laws in Arizona

Are you facing extradition to another state? Did Arizona extradite you from another state? If so, you need an experienced Phoenix criminal defense lawyer to help protect your legal rights and ensure that you receive a fair and just proceeding. Without experienced legal advice, you risk losing your freedom and other rights.

The legal team of Orent Law Offices defends individuals in a variety of criminal cases. If you need a criminal defense lawyer to stand with you as you face serious criminal charges, contact our office to request a free consultation to discuss your case.

What is Extradition?

When you think of extradition, you may think of an international fugitive being returned to the United States to stand trial for a crime committed in this country. Our country has numerous extradition treaties with foreign countries. The extradition treaties dictate the terms of surrendering criminal suspects or fugitives to the country that is prosecuting the individual.

If a person is wanted in another country, the federal government handles the process of international extradition from Arizona to the requesting country. Likewise, if a person wanted in the state of Arizona flees to another country, the federal government would request extradition, according to the extradition treaty with that country. Not all countries have extradition treaties with the United States.

Within the United States, each state must extradite or return an individual to another state if that state has an arrest warrant for that individual. The Extradition Clause of the United States Constitution (Article IV §2) outlines a state’s duty to extradite individuals to another state. States must return an individual who is fleeing criminal prosecution to another state, but there is a process to follow before states return someone to another state for criminal prosecution.

Extradition Between States in the United States

Running to another state doesn’t prevent you from being returned to Arizona and tried for a crime. The interstate extradition process in Arizona is governed by the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA). Arizona is one of the states that adopted the UCEA.

The UCEA allows Arizona’s Governor to approve the extradition of an individual to another state. It also sets forth the procedure for requesting extradition and requirements for extradition from Arizona.

Requirements for extradition under UCEA require that:

  • Probable cause exists for a valid out-of-state arrest warrant;
  • The state’s governor sends an extradition request to the other state’s governor;
  • An extradition hearing is held;
  • A judge finds the person waives extradition (agrees to be returned to the requesting state) or the requesting state has met all requirements for the judge to approve extradition; and,
  • The requesting state must pick up the person within 30 days, or the person can be released.

The process for extradition from Arizona follows the UCEA guidelines.

What is the Extradition Process in Arizona?

In most extradition cases, police officers detain a person when officers discover there is an outstanding warrant in another state. A person might also be held if they are picked up because of an active APB (all-points bulletin) from a law enforcement agency. Arizona notifies law enforcement agents in the other state they are detaining a suspect, a person of interest, or fugitive.

The Arizona extradition process typically follows these steps:

  • The Arizona Governor’s Office receives an extradition request from another state.
  • The extradition officer for the Office of the Arizona Governor reviews the request and documentation.
  • If the person is not in custody, the Governor issues an arrest warrant for the person.
  • After an arrest, the court schedules a hearing to inform the person of his or her legal rights, including a right to attorney representation.
  • If a person consents to the extradition to another state, he or she may waive the right to an extradition hearing.
  • If the person consents or the judge grants extradition, the person is processed and turned over to law enforcement officials of the requesting state.

Depending on the circumstances in the case, there could be other steps required for approval of extradition from Arizona to another state.

What happens if you get extradited from Arizona to California?

California prosecutors use a variety of factors to decide whether to pursue a fugitive in another state. For low-level crimes, it might not be worth the time and money to chase a fugitive across the country. Likewise, jail overcrowding, overloaded court dockets, and other factors could influence a prosecutor’s decision to pursue extradition.

However, Arizona and California both adopted the UCEA. Therefore, decisions for extradition between these two states is often quick. Because California and Arizona border each other, law enforcement officials may request extradition from Arizona to California for any level of crime, particularly a felony charge.

If California wants you returned to answer for a crime committed in, for example, Los Angeles, you may want to retain a criminal lawyer in that jurisdiction. A lawyer who is familiar with the laws pertaining to the prosecuting court will be able to advise you on how to proceed with your extradition case.

Are There Ways to Fight Extradition from Arizona?

Deciding whether to waive an extradition hearing or fight extradition is made on a case-by-case basis. An Arizona criminal defense lawyer can review your case to determine the best defense strategy to protect your rights.

If you choose to fight extradition, there are several challenges you might raise to the extradition. Possible challenges to extradition include:

  • Disputing identity. You are not the person named in the arrest warrant. In most cases, challenging identify can be done by providing fingerprints to prove you are not the person named in the arrest warrant.
  • Challenging the validity of the documents provided by the requesting state. Arizona has strict rules regarding documentation required with an extradition request. If the documents are not valid or complete, you might win a challenge to extradition.
  • Disputing the legality of your arrest for lack of probable cause. If the state requesting your return cannot demonstrate it has probable cause for believing you committed a crime, the judge may deny extradition.
  • Challenging whether you are a fugitive. If you were never arrested or an arrest warrant was not issued, you might not be considered a fugitive from justice.

Challenging an extradition request may not always be the best strategy. Discussing your legal rights and options with an Arizona criminal defense attorney before taking any action is highly recommended.

Why It’s Important to Hire an Experienced Arizona Extradition Defense Lawyer?

A fugitive cannot be immediately handed over to another state. The person has a right to a hearing before a judge. The person also has the right to challenge the extradition.

Challenging extradition can be complicated. The laws related to the various challenges must be carefully analyzed to determine if the facts in your case support a challenge. If not, you may be making matters worse by challenging extradition.

In some cases, it might be better to waive an extradition hearing. Waiving extradition might be used to bargain with out-of-state prosecutors for a plea bargain. The nature of the criminal charges often has a significant impact on whether a person may want to waive an extradition hearing.

As with any arrest, it is best to exercise all your legal rights, including the right to remain silent and your right to legal counsel. Don’t make a statement to the police or try to explain your “side of the story” until you have a chance to talk to an Arizona criminal defense attorney. Instead, respectfully request that you be allowed to contact an attorney or that an attorney be appointed by the court to advise you of your legal rights.

Contact Our Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorneys Today

Extradition can be a complicated process. Make sure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process by contacting our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible.

Call us to request a free consultation. You may also contact our legal team online to request additional information about our legal services.