Extradition into Colorado is the legal procedure for returning a "fugitive from justice" to Colorado in order for him/her to face prosecution or sentencing for a criminal offense he/she allegedly committed there. Other than violating parole, grounds for extradition are that the fugitive allegedly violated his/her bail or probation conditions.
"Extradition to Colorado" Process
There are five basic steps for a person to be extradited from out of state (the "asylum state") into Colorado.
- Colorado law enforcement requests the asylum state's law enforcement to arrest the alleged fugitive;
- The governor of the asylum state signs a governor's warrant;
- The police in the asylum state seek out and arrest the alleged fugitive (assuming he/she is not already in custody);
- The asylum state holds a writ of habeas corpus hearing to determine whether the fugitive is being held legally; and
- Unless the alleged fugitive wins the habeas corpus hearing, Colorado police go to the asylum state to take the alleged fugitive back into Colorado to face the underlying criminal charges
When an alleged fugitive has fled from Colorado, it is Colorado's responsibility to:
- Obtain a written document (the warrant) that is in accordance with the procedures of the UCEA (Uniform Criminal Extradition Act);
- Have the governor of the asylum state to sign the warrant; and
- List the warrant with the NCIC (United States National Crime Information Center)
Note that the governor's warrant must include the following information for it to be valid:
- The signature of the governor as well as the state seal;
- Directions to the law enforcement officers who will execute the governor's warrant; and
- A "substantial recitation" of the background of the case
Note that Colorado is one of 48 states that is a party to the UCEA. However, every state's asylum procedures are usually a little different. Alleged fugitives are encouraged to hire attorneys in both Colorado as well as the asylum state to work together to ensure that they are getting the most comprehensive defense.
The two states that have not adopted the UCEA are South Carolina and Missouri. Therefore, when alleged fugitives from Colorado flee to Missouri or South Carolina, Colorado law enforcement must take care to follow the asylum state's specific extradition procedures.
Crimes for which Colorado will pursue extradition
Practically, Colorado does not have the money nor manpower to try to extradite everyone who broke the law in Colorado back into the state. So while Colorado can try to extradite people for committing petty offenses, misdemeanors, and minor felonies in the state, Colorado will likely try to extradite only people who have allegedly committed the most serious felonies, such as:
- murder or manslaughter;
- attempted murder;
- DUI causing death;
- first-degree assault;
- human trafficking
- sexual assault;
- attempted rape;
- child pornography;
- bank robbery;
- aggravated robbery;
- aggravated criminal extortion;
- theft involving a large sum of money or valuable property; and
- large drug trafficking cases
Also, Colorado is more likely to try to extradite alleged fugitives in high-profile cases, even if the underlying crime is minor, such as DUI or drug possession.