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Can I be extradited back to Colorado for a misdemeanor?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Yes. Though in practice, Colorado police rarely take the time and expense to extradite fugitives to Colorado who are facing only Colorado misdemeanor charges.

Definition of extradition to Colorado

Extradition is how a state government physically brings back a fugitive to that state to face charges for crimes the fugitive allegedly committed in that state. The five steps of extraditing someone to Colorado include:

  1. Colorado ("the demanding state") informs authorities in the state where the fugitive is (the "asylum state") that a fugitive is in its jurisdiction;
  2. The governor in the asylum state signs a governor's warrant for the fugitive's arrest;
  3. The asylum state arrests the fugitive (unless it already occurred);
  4. A writ of habeas corpus hearing is held (unless the fugitive waives it);
  5. Colorado authorities pick up the fugitive and transfer him/her back to Colorado

Note that Missouri and South Carolina are the only U.S. states who have not adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. So whenever fugitives flee to those states, Colorado authorities need to follow those states' specific extradition procedures.

Governor's warrants

A governor's warrant kicks off the process of extraditing a fugitive back to Colorado. For a warrant to be in accordance with the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, it must contain the following:

  • the asylum state governor's signature sealed with the state seal;
  • directions of how to execute the warrant; and
  • a substantial recitation of the facts of the case

Furthermore, the fugitive needs to be listed with the NCIC (the United States Crime Information Center).

Writs of Habeas Corpus

After the asylum state's governor signs the warrant, local police will attempt to arrest the fugitive (if he/she is still in the state). Following the arrest, the fugitive gets a special hearing in front of a judge in the asylum state.

Called a writ of habeas corpus, this hearing has a singular purpose: To ensure that authorities have followed all proper extradition procedures. This hearing has nothing to do with whether the fugitive is innocent or guilty of the underlying crime--that can be determined only in Colorado, not the asylum state.

Waiving extradition to Colorado

The fugitive can elect to dispense with having ("waiving") a writ of habeas corpus hearing. One benefit of waiving extradition is that it expedites the whole process, and the fugitive is returned to Colorado more quickly.

But in some cases, the fugitive may want to draw out the process as long as possible and stay out of Colorado. A criminal defense attorney can help the person decide whether it is in his/her best interest to waive extradition.

Extraditable offenses

Colorado authorities may pursue extradition of fugitives suspected of any type of crime, including:

  • felonies,
  • misdemeanors, or
  • petty offenses

However, fugitives accused of only misdemeanors and petty offenses rarely face extradition back to Colorado. This is because extradition is an expensive process, sometimes amounting to $4,000 or more. Because of limitations of money and manpower, Colorado police typically attempt to extradite fugitives only when the cases involve either of the following:

  • homicide
  • sexual assault
  • theft of large amounts of money or goods
  • trafficking or large amounts of drugs
  • heavy media attention
  • any other situation where the authorities deem extradition "worth" the effort

Learn more about Colorado extradition laws.


Legal References

  1. CRS 16-19-104 (Form of Demand).
  2. United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Services.
  3. CRS 16-19-108 (Issue of Governor's Warrant).
  4. Mo. Rev. Stat. 548.021 et seq (Missouri Extradition).
  5. S.C. Code Ann. 17-9-10 et seq (South Carolina Extradition).

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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