Extradition in California is the legal process of returning fugitives from justice back to the state in which they allegedly committed a crime or violated the terms of their bail, probation, or parole.
California has joined the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, which provides for the extradition of fugitives between states. The purpose of the act is to make sure that fugitives who have fled from one state to another to avoid prosecution can be returned to the state where the crime was allegedly committed in order to face charges.
Before a person can be extradited, the law requires a court hearing to determine the validity of the arrest warrant. This hearing is known as a
- “governor’s hearing” or a
- “probable cause hearing.”
The purpose of these hearings is to determine whether
- the person being sought is the same person named in the warrant, and
- whether the crime charged is an extraditable offense under the law.
There are two types of extradition:
- extraditing a fugitive into California from another state, and
- extraditing a fugitive from California into another state.
Extradition into California refers to a situation where you have
- committed a crime in this state,
- escaped from incarceration in this state, and/or
- violated the terms/conditions of your bail, probation or parole in this state,
yet you are apprehended in another state before you have resolved these issues.
Extradition from California refers to a similar situation except that the crime/violation occurs in another state, and you are subsequently apprehended in California.
In either event, California’s extradition laws – found in California Penal Code sections 1548-1558 PC – govern both types of extradition. These laws regulate exactly how each state must proceed, whether they are
- seeking the extradition (and are therefore known as the demanding or home state) or whether they are
- responding to the extradition request (and are known as the asylum state).
In this article, our California criminal defense attorneys1 will discuss:
- 1. What is Extradition?
- 2. How does a person get extradited back into California?
- 3. How does a person get extradited from California to another state?
- 4. Can a person fight an extradition order?
If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
Extradition is the legal process of transporting a suspected or convicted criminal to another state or nation so that he/she may stand trial or face sentencing. The alleged or convicted criminal is known as a “fugitive from justice.” The state/nation where the fugitive escapes imprisonment, commits the alleged crime, or violates the terms/conditions of his/her:
is known as the “home” or “demanding” state/nation. The state/nation in which the individual is apprehended is known as the “asylum” state/nation.
There are two types of fugitives:
- those who are being charged with a crime, who have escaped imprisonment, or who have violated their bail, probation or parole and who have purposely fled the state in which that alleged crime/violation took place in order to avoid punishment or capture, and
- those who have traveled or moved unaware that they have done anything wrong or are wanted for criminal proceedings. These individuals may not even become aware of this fact until, for example, they are pulled over for speeding, and the officer runs a “check” and subsequently arrests them pursuant to an extradition warrant.
With respect to extradition, it doesn’t matter which type of fugitive you are, as California’s extradition laws equally apply to both.
California – along with every other state except for South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi – has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (“UCEA”). The UCEA regulates interstate extradition. It is codified in California’s Penal Code sections 1548-1558 PC.
The UCEA establishes clear steps that each state must follow — whether they are the demanding state or the asylum state — when they are involved in interstate extradition.
And although there is a federal law that also regulates interstate extradition, the UCEA is more common and…as a result…it is this Act on which all of our articles on California extradition will focus.
The federal law that pertains to extradition is found in
Unlike the UCEA, which sets forth the exact procedures that states must follow when they are seeking to extradite a fugitive, the federal law simply summarizes the extradition process as follows:
When the demanding state wishes to extradite a fugitive from the asylum state, it must deliver an indictment or affidavit charging the alleged fugitive with a crime. The asylum state must then arrest the named individual and keep him/her for up to 30 days until an agent from the demanding state comes to claim him/her. If no agent comes, the asylum state will release the prisoner.
For the most part, these laws are in sync with each other; the UCEA is just more specific. But if/when there is a discrepancy, the federal law controls.
If, while in California, you
- allegedly commit a crime,
- escape imprisonment, or
- violate the terms of your
- probation, or
and then for whatever reason flee the state, California may seek to have you extradited back to this state. When this is the case, California is the demanding state, and the state in which you are found is known as the asylum state.
But before California will demand your return, it must weigh
- the time and expense of bringing you back to this state against
- the severity of the crime/violation of which you are accused.
If it decides that extradition is appropriate, there is a series of steps that it must follow in order to secure your extradition into California.
These steps for extradition proceedings include:
- issuing a proper demand to the asylum state for your return,
- sending an agent to receive you in the asylum state within 30 days of your arrest, and
- bringing you back to this state to return to
- answer to the charges,
- be sentenced, or
- be reincarcerated.
Each of these steps is discussed in detail in our article on Extradition into California.
But as Ventura criminal defense attorney Karthik Krishnan4 explains:
“When California is the asylum state, we must follow different steps in order to determine whether to extradite you back to the demanding state. Just because another state claims that you violated its laws doesn’t mean that California will automatically return you without further investigation.”
California law requires that we ensure that you are the actual person being sought by that state before we surrender you to their agents. Extradition laws from California involve
- receiving a proper demand from the home state,
- issuing a California Governor’s warrant, and
- conducting a probable cause / identification hearing to ensure that you are not being falsely accused or improperly subject to extradition.
Each of these steps is discussed at length in our article on Extradition from California.5
There are a variety of California legal defenses that come into play to fight extradition. The two most common are that
- there are fatal flaws with the extradition paperwork that will render the extradition invalid, and
- you are the victim of mistaken identity…that is, you are not the actual individual that the home state is seeking.
But the unfortunate reality is that you will most likely have to present these defenses from jail. Extradition typically involves a “guilty until proven innocent” philosophy, since it is premised on the fact that you are a “fugitive from justice” and have already fled to escape punishment.
However, depending on the facts of your alleged violation (and on the skill of your criminal defense attorney) he/she may be able to negotiate a deal that would allow you to
- post bail,
- be released on your own recognizance (known as an O.R. release),
- voluntarily surrender to the home state, or
- resolve the matter without your having to leave your current location.
Sometimes the legal tactic that makes the most sense is a waiver of extradition.
- Our California criminal law defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier. We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.
- United States Constitution art IV, §2(2). Extradition.
- 18 U.S. Code 3182 — Fugitives from State or Territory to State, District, or Territory – Extradition.
- Ventura criminal defense lawyer Karthik Krishnan represents clients at the Ventura Hall of Justice, the Van Nuys courthouse, the Pasadena courthouse, the Burbank courthouse, the Glendale courthouse, the Lancaster courthouse, the San Fernando courthouse, and the Criminal Courts Building.
- California Penal Codes 1547 – 1558 (Proceedings Against Fugitives From Justice). See, for example: Pacileo v. Walker (1980), 446 U.S. 1307; Morgan v. Horrall (9th Cir. Cal., 1949), 175 F.2d 404.