Extradition Warrants in California

An extradition warrant is a warrant issued for the arrest of an accused fugitive. This is a person that committed a crime in California, but then left the state. If the suspect is arrested in another state, he or she will be extradited back into California to face justice proceedings. 

California's governor issues an extradition warrant after receiving an application to extradite. “Extradition” itself refers to the legal process of transporting suspected or convicted criminals from one state to another.

Note that extradition warrants can be used if a person committed a:

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

governor of california
A state governor is the only person that can issue an extradition warrant.

1. What is an extradition warrant?

An extradition warrant is a warrant issued for the arrest of a fugitive.

A person becomes a fugitive when he/she leaves California because:

  1. He/she committed a crime,
  2. the person escaped from county jail or state prison, or
  3. he/she violated the terms of probation, bail, or parole.

An extradition warrant authorizes authorities to:

  • arrest a fugitive, and
  • do so at any time and any place where they find the fugitive.

Upon arrest, the fugitive must appear before a judge. This appearance is often called an “extradition hearing.” A judge must hold this hearing before agents hand the fugitive over to California.

Note that an “asylum state” is the state where the fugitive is found. A “demanding state” is the state that wants the fugitive returned.

Any state can be a demanding state. This means states other than California may issue an extradition warrant.

Example: Jerome assaults his ex-girlfriend with a deadly weapon, a crime per Penal Code 245a1. Scared of an arrest, he leaves California and travels to Nevada. California's governor issues an extradition warrant for Jerome's arrest.

Here, California is the demanding state. Nevada is the asylum state. Authorities now have the right to arrest Jerome any where they find him in Nevada.

Note that Nevada could have issued the warrant if Jerome committed the assault in that state and then fled to California.

2. How is an extradition warrant issued?

A state governor is the only person that can issue an extradition warrant. This is the law per:

A governor may issue a warrant after receiving a valid application to extradite.

A California prosecutor is the person that submits this application. The prosecutor does this after deciding he/she wants to extradite.

There are four types of applications under California law. These are:

  • one that seeks the return of a fugitive who has been charged with a crime,
  • one that seeks the return of a fugitive who has escaped confinement,
  • one that seeks return because a fugitive violated his/her bail, probation or parole, and
  • one that seeks the return of a mentally ill fugitive.

California's governor will issue an extradition warrant if the governor:

  • agrees with the prosecutor, and
  • approves the prosecutor's application.

If the governor disagrees, then no warrant gets issued.

3. Can a warrant be issued for a misdemeanor?

A governor can issue an extradition warrant for a fugitive that committed a misdemeanor. The governor, though, is not obligated to do so.

Extradition is not mandatory. There is nothing in the Constitution or in California law that requires extradition.

It is a decision that is within the demanding state's discretion.

Also note that extradition is a lengthy and costly process. For these reasons, it is not sought in every case.

There are several factors a governor considers in deciding on extradition. These factors apply no matter if a fugitive committed a:

  • felony,
  • misdemeanor, or
  • violation of probation, bail, or parole.

Some of these factors include:

  • the circumstances, nature and severity of the alleged offense,
  • the fugitive's criminal history, and
  • whether there is still sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

The key question that gets asked is:

“Is it worth California's time, money, and resources to extradite the fugitive?”

4. Can a warrant be issued for a probation violation?

A warrant may be issued for a violation of:

  • probation,
  • bail, or
  • parole.

Again, note that a governor is not obligated to issue an extradition warrant for these violations.

A governor will consider the following factors before doing so:

  • the circumstances, nature and severity of the alleged offense,
  • the fugitive's criminal history, and
  • whether there is still sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.

As to the last point, note that some cases involve a significant amount of time between:

  • a crime, and
  • the date a warrant is sought.

In these cases, a governor may decide not to extradite because:

  • witnesses can no longer be found,
  • physical evidence was destroyed, or
  • experts can no longer testify with certainty.

For additional help...

california criminal defense attorneys
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370