Navigating Extradition as a Defendant in a New York City Criminal Case
Getting arrested for a crime is scary enough. But what if you get arrested in New York City for a crime committed in another state? Now you’re facing extradition – the process of transferring a criminal defendant from one state to another.
As a defendant, extradition can feel overwhelming. But with an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer on your side, you can better understand the process and explore your options. This guide breaks down key things to know about extradition in New York City criminal cases.
The Extradition Process
Extradition is governed by Article IV, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which states:
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
This clause creates an obligation for states to transfer fugitives – people who committed a crime in one state and then fled to another state. Extradition aims to ensure that states can hold defendants accountable for crimes committed within their borders.
Here’s how it works in New York:
- The demanding state (where the crime occurred) contacts New York’s governor and requests extradition. This is called a requisition demand.
- The demanding state must provide key documents like an arrest warrant, indictment, and affidavit. This provides probable cause that the defendant committed the alleged crime.
- If the paperwork checks out, New York’s governor issues an arrest warrant for the defendant.
- Once arrested in New York, the defendant appears before a judge for an extradition hearing. The judge decides whether the defendant is the person wanted and if extradition documents are valid.
Grounds for Fighting Extradition
Common grounds to fight extradition in New York include:
- You’re not the person wanted – Mistaken identity is a valid defense against extradition. If prosecutors named the wrong person, you can’t get extradited.
- Invalid extradition request – States must follow proper protocols, with correct paperwork, to extradite someone. Technical errors like incomplete or missing documents may stop an extradition.
- The state waited too long – New York won’t extradite someone if too much time passed between the crime and the extradition request. Generally, the statute of limitations is 5 years for felonies and 2 years for misdemeanors.
- You’re not a “fugitive” – To be extradited, you must have been in the demanding state when the crime occurred. If you never set foot there, you may not qualify as a fugitive.
- You already answered the charges – If you already went through trial, conviction, or acquittal for the crime in the demanding state, double jeopardy prevents extradition.
- Medical conditions – Serious health issues that can’t be treated in the demanding state’s jails may also halt extradition.
Skilled criminal lawyers know how to poke holes in extradition requests. While challenging extradition is uphill battle, it is possible in the right circumstances.
Potential Outcomes of Fighting Extradition
Contesting extradition is not guaranteed to stop your transfer, but various scenarios can unfold:
- Extradition denied – If the judge rejects the demanding state’s request, you avoid extradition altogether. But the demanding state can refile paperwork to try again.
- Extradition delayed – Often, raising defenses buys time by delaying the process. This helps defense lawyers prepare your case and negotiate with prosecutors.
- Extradition granted – If you exhaust all appeals, you will likely get extradited eventually. But your New York lawyer can help minimize time detained there while fighting the charges.
- Voluntary extradition – Some defendants prefer to expedite extradition, especially if the case seems straightforward or potential penalties are minor. Your lawyer can coordinate surrendering yourself to the demanding state.
- Case dismissal – In rare instances, prosecutors may dismiss the charges if they don’t want to bother with lengthy extradition proceedings. Don’t count on this outcome, but it’s not impossible.
Even if you ultimately get extradited, consulting skilled counsel is imperative to protect your rights and explore every option along the way.
How an Extradition Lawyer Can Help
- Explain the extradition process and your rights
- Identify potential defenses against transfer
- Review paperwork from the demanding state for errors
- Represent you at all New York extradition hearings
- Argue to the judge why extradition is improper
- File habeas corpus petitions to halt extradition
- Request reasonable bail terms while contesting extradition
- Negotiate with prosecutors from the demanding state
- Coordinate with defense counsel in the demanding state if extradited
- Advise you on the best legal strategies and outcomes
An experienced extradition lawyer serves as your guide through this complex process. They look out for your interests every step of the way.
Finding the Right Lawyer for an Extradition Case
Extradition cases require attorneys well-versed in both New York and interstate criminal law. When looking for a lawyer, seek out:
- Extensive criminal defense experience – Handling all types of criminal charges sharpens lawyers’ extradition skills. Look for 10+ years of practice.
- Knowledge of extradition protocols – Find lawyers intimately familiar with extradition laws and procedures in New York and elsewhere.
- Strong litigation record – Opt for attorneys with proven success fighting extradition and getting charges dismissed.
- Negotiation skills – Since many cases get resolved through plea deals, choose lawyers who excel at negotiating favorable outcomes.
- Resources and connections – Well-resourced lawyers have access to investigators, forensics, and out-of-state attorneys to build your defense.
Exploring Options with an Extradition Lawyer
Once you retain counsel, your lawyer’s first priority is getting up to speed on the extradition request and charges. They will:
- Obtain all paperwork from New York and the demanding state
- Identify the exact charges against you
- Research the applicable laws and potential penalties
- Contact prosecutors to get their side of the story
- Explore any plea deal offers if you wish to resolve the case
- Assess options for fighting the allegations and/or extradition request
After a thorough review, your lawyer will lay out your options. Together, you can decide the best course of action – be it challenging extradition, negotiating a plea deal, or preparing your substantive defense.
With an early open exchange of information and ideas, your lawyer can craft and execute the right legal strategy.
Extradition is a complex process, but an experienced criminal defense lawyer can guide you through it. Work with counsel to understand protocols, preserve your rights, and explore the best possible options and outcomes. With the stakes so high, consulting an attorney skilled in fighting extradition is critical.