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What is Extradition? - Definition, Laws & Example

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  • 0:00 What Is Extradition?
  • 0:39 Extradition Between States
  • 2:19 Extradition Between Countries
  • 4:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Andrea Stephenson

Andrea has a Juris Doctor and has spoken at legal conferences on government transparency.

What is extradition? This lesson will define extradition and give real world examples. This lesson will additionally explain the legal basis of extradition both between states and between countries.

What Is Extradition?

What happens to people who commit crimes in one state and then flee to another state? What about individuals who commit crimes in the United States and then escape to other countries? Do these criminals just get away with their crimes because they left the jurisdiction where the crimes were committed? The simple answer most of the time is 'no', thanks to the concept of extradition.

It its simplest form, extradition is the act of one governmental authority formally turning over an alleged criminal to another governmental authority for prosecution for a criminal charge. Generally, extradition happens between two states or two countries.

Extradition Between States

The legal concept of extradition was created by the Extradition Clause of the Constitution of the United States of America, found in Article IV, Section 2. Specifically, the Extradition Clause states that if a person commits a crime in one state and then flees to another state, then if the state where the crime was committed demands the criminal's return, the state where he was found must return him to the state where the crime was committed.

The rules and procedure for extradition can be found in the Federal Code of Laws at 18 U.S. Code Chapter 209. In order to be extradited, states must follow the following rules:

  1. Demand made by an executive authority to the state where the fugitive fled
  2. Provide a copy of the indictment or an affidavit with the demand
  3. The indictment must be for treason, felony or other crime
  4. The documents must be certified by the governor or chief magistrate of the state where the crime was committed
  5. The state where the fugitive has fled must arrest the fugitive and notify the state demanding return of such arrest
  6. The agent of the executive authority who requested extradition must appear to receive the fugitive within 30 days of the date of arrest

Example

Let's say that Bonnie and Clyde committed murder in Alabama and then drove into Georgia. Alabama then puts out a warrant for their arrest and notifies Georgia that the fugitives are possibly there. In Georgia, Clyde drinks and drives, leading him to get pulled over and arrested. Georgia notifies Alabama of Clyde's arrest. Alabama demands Clyde's return. Due to extradition, Georgia returns Clyde to Alabama to face prosecution for murder.

Extradition Between Countries

Extradition between countries is governed by treaties. Generally, extradition is limited to the specific crimes listed in the applicable treaty. In the United States, extradition requests between countries go through the Department of Justice and Department of State.

Looking at the following image, you will notice countries that have extradition treaties with the US are colored in blue.

Extradition

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