Extradition out of Colorado is the legal process of bringing back a “fugitive from justice” from Colorado to the state in which he or she allegedly committed a crime. A person may also be extradited if he or she:
CRS 16-19-104 is the Colorado code section that sets forth the laws of extradition in the state. It puts into effect the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, which is an effort by multiple states to create:
- a detailed;
- complete; and
- specific set of procedures for returning fugitives to and from a state.
The Basic Process for Extraditing a Fugitive from the State of Colorado
When another state desires to extradite a fugitive out of Colorado, that state must follow these basic steps:
- file a request with the State of Colorado which sets forth the crime committed;
- Governor of Colorado initiates an investigation into allegations;
- Governor of Colorado signs governor’s warrant;
- Arrest is made of the fugitive (if not already in custody);
- Transportation arrangements are made for the fugitive;
- Fugitive is extradited out of Colorado.
Hearing in Front of a Judge
Once the warrant is signed, Colorado local law enforcement will arrest the person listed if found in the state. Once arrested, that person is entitled to a brief procedural hearing in front of a Colorado judge.
The hearing is called a Writ of Habeas Corpus hearing. A fugitive is allowed to waive his or her right to this hearing in order to speed up the return to the demanding state.
Defending Yourself Against Extradition
A person can defend him or herself against extradition by:
- Proving that improper procedures were followed;
- Prove that he or she is not the person who committed the alleged crime;
- File a writ of habeas corpus.
Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the process to extradite someone out of Colorado:
- 1. What is the basic 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 basic process for extraditing a fugitive to another state?
When another state desires to extradite a fugitive out of Colorado, there are certain basic steps to be followed:
- The requesting state files a request with the State of Colorado setting forth the crime committed.
- The Governor of Colorado initiates an investigation into allegations.
- The Governor of Colorado signs the governor’s warrant.
- An Arrest is made of the fugitive (if not already in custody).
- Transportation arrangements are made for the fugitive.
- The fugitive is extradited out of Colorado. 1
It is important that both states comply with these procedures or the extradition may be invalid.
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 regarding the extradition of alleged criminals in and out of their states. In fact, only Missouri and South Carolina have not adopted the UCEA.
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?
According to federal law, a valid arrest warrant can result in an arrest anywhere within the United States, even when that warrant is for another state.
Once a person is in custody under an arrest warrant, if the demanding state wishes to extradite a fugitive from Colorado they must quickly and efficiently file a request for extradition.
A fugitive can be held in jail for a period of time to allow for the extradition process to take place, but a significant delay may be grounds for a writ of habeas corpus arguing that confinement in prison is improper.
3. Can a fugitive be released on bail before extradition?
Under most circumstances, a person who faces extradition can be placed on bond while waiting the determination and final processing of the demanding state’s request. The bail will depend on appearance at all court dates and no further violations of the law while on bail.
Bail may not be granted to those 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. 2
3.1 Should I return to the state by my own free will?
Whether a fugitive should fight against extradition depends on the facts of the individual case. There is no easy answer.
A person may wish to waive extradition and return of his or her own free will because:
- he or she receives promises from the prosecuting attorney for leniency if extradition is waived; or
- he or she wishes to “get it over with” and get back to the demanding state. 3
Some cautions should be known before waiving extradition. If a person waives, he or she 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 unnecessarily. 4
You have the right to defend yourself against unwarranted extradition, or at least to ensure that you will not spend an excessive amount of time in jail. An experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer can help.
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:
- 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 your attorney more time to build your defense.
- Mistaken Identity: In other cases you can deny that you are the person that Colorado seeks to return. Similar or identical names have resulted in mix-up’s before, and if this is the case, you should not be arrested and pulled from Colorado.
- 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 you, and that your detention is unlawful.
Call us for help…
For questions about the extradition process out of Colorado or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
- CRS 16-19-104 (Form of Demand).
- CRS 16-19-117 (Bail pending extradition).
- CRS 16-19-126 (Written waiver of extradition).
- CRS 16-19-119.5 (Custody pending arrival of agent of the demanding state).