Extradition out of Colorado is the legal process of sending fugitives currently in Colorado back to the state where they allegedly committed a crime. The Colorado Governor must sign a warrant to approve taking the suspected fugitive into custody. Following the arrest, suspected fugitives are entitled to a hearing in Colorado to contest the extradition.
Below, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions:
- 1. What is the process for extraditing a fugitive to another state?
- 2. What happens if I am arrested before a Governor’s Warrant is issued?
- 3. Can a fugitive be released on bail before extradition?
- 4. How can I defend myself against extradition out of Colorado?
1. What is the process for extraditing a fugitive to another state?
When another state desires to extradite a fugitive out of Colorado, the basic steps are:
- The requesting state (“demanding state”) files a request with Colorado (“asylum state”) explaining the crime(s) the fugitive committed.
- The Governor of Colorado initiates an investigation into allegations.
- The Governor of Colorado signs the governor’s warrant.
- Law enforcement arrests the fugitive (if not already in custody).
- Colorado holds a hearing, where the fugitive can try to fight extradition (unless he/she chooses not to have this hearing).
- Transportation arrangements are made for the fugitive.
- The fugitive is extradited out of Colorado to the demanding state. 1
It is important that both states comply with these procedures, or the extradition may be invalid.
See our related article, extradition into Colorado.
1.1. What is the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act?
The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA) is an agreement between nearly all of the 50 states to follow strict regulations for extraditing alleged criminals in and out of their states. Only Missouri and South Carolina have not adopted the UCEA. 2
The UCEA is a “model” act that states can adopt “as-is” or modify, so long as the modifications do not conflict with federal law. Most states have made at least some minor modifications to the act, while others have significantly added to its protections.
2. What happens if I am arrested before a Governor’s Warrant is issued?
If a person gets arrested in Colorado before a Governor’s Warrant has issued, Colorado authorities can hold the person in jail for a period of time to allow for the extradition process to play out. But a significant delay may be grounds for a writ of habeas corpus, where the person could argue that the prolonged imprisonment is unlawful. 3
3. Can a fugitive be released on bail before extradition?
It depends on the case. Some suspected fugitives can be placed on bond in Colorado while waiting the determination and final processing of the demanding state’s request. But bail may not be granted to people awaiting extradition if:
- the alleged offense is punishable by death or life imprisonment under the demanding state’s laws;
- the fugitive is alleged to have escaped from custody in the demanding state;
- the fugitive is alleged to have violated the terms of his or her bail, probation, parole, or sentence; or
- the fugitive has executed a written waiver of extradition. 4
3.1. Should I return to the state by my own free will?
Whether a suspected fugitive should fight extradition depends on the facts of the individual case. Some people may wish to waive extradition and return of their own free will because:
- they received promises from the prosecuting attorney for leniency if extradition is waived; or
- they want to “get it over with” and get back to the demanding state. 5
However, waiving extradition means the person is no longer eligible for bail while awaiting transportation to the demanding state. Sometimes, transportation arrangements can take weeks or even over a month. During that time a person is incarcerated in Colorado unnecessarily. 6
4. How can I defend myself against extradition out of Colorado?
When another state requests extradition into its borders from Colorado, there are certain defenses that may be raised to attempt to prevent it. Three potential defenses are:
- Improper Procedures: If the procedures under the UCEA have not been strictly followed, the attempt to bring a person into the state is invalid. In many cases, minor defects in paperwork or the process in generally will not stop the procedures – but may slow it. This can sometimes work to a person’s advantage, giving the defense attorney more time to build a defense.
- Mistaken Identity: In other cases, the suspected fugitive can deny that he or she is the person that Colorado seeks to return. Similar or identical names have resulted in mix-ups before.
- Writ of Habeas Corpus: The writ of habeas corpus hearing is the time to raise any defense that shows the court does not properly have a right to arrest the fugitive, and that the detention is unlawful.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities. Also see our article on the consequences of a felony warrant in another state.
- CRS 16-19-104 (Form of Demand); see also Rodriquez v. Sandoval, (Colo. 1984) 680 P.2d 1278.
- Jail Time Awaiting Extradition on Old Out-of-State Felony Warrant, The Law Dictionary.
- See also People v. Gomez, (1976) 192 Colo. 313, 558 P.2d 439.
- CRS 16-19-117 (Bail pending extradition).
- CRS 16-19-126 (Written waiver of extradition); see also Luker v. Koch, (1971) 176 Colo. 75, 489 P.2d 191.
- CRS 16-19-119.5 (Custody pending arrival of agent of the demanding state).