Before considering which criminal acts an individual might be extradited, and punished for, it’s important to understand that there are three different types of extradition.
All three are different and are governed by a disparate set of legal rules that determine whether or not an individual can be extradited to the territory in question to be charged, tried, and punished for their alleged offense.
The three types of extradition that the United States uses in legal proceedings are as follows:
Intrastate - Intrastate extradition is used when a fugitive is arrested in the same territory or state by a local police force (usually county or local, but in some cases, college police forces have been responsible for arresting the individual in question) rather than a state-regulated one.
In intrastate extradition, all legal proceedings are controlled by county and local law, and whether or not the fugitive can, and will be extradited depends on how they are interpreted and enacted.
Interstate - Directly governed by the US Constitution, interstate extradition is a legal procedure that is authorized by multiple acts of Congress and the Extradition Clause (or Article IV, Section Two, Clause Two) of the Constitution which states that any state or territory of the US must, on the demand of another state, deliver a fugitive from justice who may or may not have committed treason, a felony offense or other crime.
Interstate extradition is controlled by the rules and regulations of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, which mandates the way that prisoners should be treated and transported between territories to await trial and possible sentencing and punishment.
International - The big gun in the extradition arsenal is the one that is controlled by International law and is the formal process in which one country requests the return of a fugitive who has supposedly committed a crime punishable by the laws of the country making the request, outside of the borders of the country of refuge, or the country in which the accused has sought shelter.
The U.S. currently has active extradition treaties with over one hundred countries around the world, and regularly asks for their assistance to return fugitives from justice.
It is a process that works both ways and any of the countries that the US has an extradition treaty with can also request the return of any individual, or US citizen accused of committing a serious offense within its borders.
Criminal Extradition - What Crimes Can You Be Extradited For?
Now that you have a basic grounding in, and understanding of, the three different types of extradition, we can move on to discussing the type of criminal activity that you or anyone committing them can be extradited for.
Generally speaking, Intrastate extradition can be used to return a fugitive accused of committing either a misdemeanor or felony offense, while Interstate extradition is only used to request the return of individuals accused of committing felony offenses (but can also be used for misdemeanor offenses), and International extradition is usually only enacted for the gravest of felony or capital crimes due to the expense, effort and time involved in being granted and enacting an International extradition warrant.
Felony And Misdemeanor Crimes - What Separates Them?
While most felony crimes are far more serious than misdemeanor offenses, there is a surprisingly fine that separates and differentiates them.
While felony offenses are commonly regarded as being crimes of some gravity, a felony is actually defined by federal law as an illegal act that is punishable by incarceration of one year or more.
So if you were laboring under the idea that you had to have committed a crime that would result in you facing the death penalty or life in prison in order to be extradited, you may as well abandon it immediately.
Extradition can, and often is, applied in all felony cases regardless of how serious you may or may not regard the offense in question as being.
What Can You Be Extradited For?
The crimes that usually motivate one the state to request the return of a fugitive from another include burglary, drug trafficking, and the sale of narcotics, embezzlement, blackmail, sexual assault, rape, spousal abuse, domestic battery, armed robbery, terrorism, weapons offenses, manslaughter, and murder.
While extradition isn’t, by any means, limited to, or by, those offenses, the crimes listed were, and are, the ones in which one state most commonly requests the return of a possible fugitive from another state.
International extradition however is far different, as the country requesting the return of an individual must present some degree of evidentiary proof that the individual in question committed the crime or crimes that they have been charged with, or are being sought in connection with, to the country in which said individual is residing.
It is then up to that country to weigh the balance of that evidence in order to decide whether or not to return the supposed criminal to the country seeking them.
It’s a long, involved, expensive and complicated process which is why it is only used for the gravest of crimes and their alleged perpetrators.
The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act
The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act is the federal act that governs and controls interstate extradition within the United States and is regarded as being enforceable by law in the forty-eight states who signed it.
The two states in which it isn’t legally enforceable, South Carolina and Missouri, prefer to judge all extradition requests and warrants on a case-by-case basis.
While all forty-eight states who signed it usually comply with the Act, in reality, unless an individual has committed a serious felony neither Florida, Hawaii or Alaska usually ask for a fugitive to be extradited due to the expense of having to pay the other state to house and transport the suspect to them.
The Act can also be overruled by the state in which the fugitive whose extradition is being sought currently resides if that individual hasn’t been charged with the offense that they’re being sought in connection with, isn’t a fugitive from justice or the correct paperwork hasn’t been filed or received.