Extradition refers to the transfer of an accused criminal from one country to another. In the best of circumstances, extradition reflects a fundamental agreement between civilized nations that sufficiently serious crimes must not go unpunished. However, extradition is often used for political purposes, not just legal ones.
Extradition treaties span hundreds of nations, resulting in a certain degree of complexity. US extradition law is particularly complex due to the number of separate treaties to which it is a signatory. Typically, extradition is only used for "extraditable offenses" (i.e., offenses included in an extradition treaty between the requesting state and surrendering state). A central requirement to most extraditions is the concept of "specialty," which insists that an extradited defendant be tried for the crimes on which extradition was granted, not another. This protects surrendered persons from indiscriminate prosecution and persecution by a receiving country. Another important concept is the doctrine of "dual criminality," which refers to the requirement that an extraditable offense be a serious crime that is punishable under the criminal laws of both countries in the extradition transaction.
Many foreign nations oppose capital punishment and will not agree to extradite a defendant to another country (including the United States) if there is a possibility of the defendant receiving a death sentence. Similarly, many political offenses (crimes directed against the security or government of a nation, such as treason, sedition, espionage, murder during a revolution, etc.) are generally excepted from extradition treaties.
United States extradition law is a rapidly developing area of practice. If you have a question pertaining to extradition laws, you can review the materials below for additional resources. You should also contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you navigate the confusing and complicated labyrinth of statutes, case law, and treaties involved with these matters. You can find attorneys in your area under the "Law Firms" tab, above, on the menu bar.
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