Extradition is the legal process of bringing back “fugitives from justice” to the state in which they allegedly committed a crime. Whether the fugitives are being sought for extradition into Colorado or extradition out of Colorado, a Governor’s warrant is issued for their arrest. And once fugitives get arrested, they are entitled to a hearing to contest extradition before being transferred out of state.
Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the extradition process:
- 1. What is extradition?
- 2. What is a Governor’s Warrant?
- 3. What is a writ of habeas corpus?
- 4. Are there differences between extradition to and from Colorado?
1. What is extradition?
Extradition is the judicial process of returning a “fugitive from justice” to the state in which he or she allegedly either:
- committed a crime,
- violated bail,
- violated the conditions of probation, or
- violated the conditions of parole.1
2. What is a Governor’s Warrant?
The extradition process begins with a governor’s warrant. When a person is wanted either in or out of the state of Colorado, the state requesting extradition (the “demanding state”) must:
- procure a written document, and
- have it signed by the governor of the state where the fugitive is located (“asylum state”) in accordance with the procedures of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA), 2 and
- list it with the United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC).3
2.1. Which governor signs the warrant?
The governor on the receiving end of the request is the one who signs the governor’s warrant. This means that the state that wants the alleged fugitive must file a request with the governor of the state where the fugitive is currently located.4
For instance if Utah believes a person lives in or is hiding out in Colorado, the State of Utah will send a governor’s warrant to Colorado. Then the governor of Colorado signs the warrant to permit local law enforcement to pursue and arrest the alleged fugitive.
3. What is a writ of habeas corpus?
Once arrested, the alleged fugitive is entitled to a brief procedural hearing – called a writ of habeas corpus – in front of the judge of the state that did the arrest. This hearing is designed to ensure proper extradition procedures are being followed. The hearing is not designed to determine the guilt or innocence of the person accused of a crime.
3.1. Can a suspect waive the Colorado extradition hearing?
Yes, alleged fugitives can waive their right to the Writ of Habeas Corpus hearing. Some people choose to do this in order to speed the process along.
It is rare for alleged fugitives to stop extradition, but it is not impossible. People should never assume that all of the procedures have been followed correctly. An experienced attorney may be able to find procedural defects the state made and stop extradition.
4. Are there differences between extradition to and from Colorado?
Every state is a little different. Therefore, defendants are advised to retain counsel in both the demanding and asylum states to fight extradition and ensure that their rights are being upheld.
For questions about the extradition process or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. For cases in California or Nevada, please see our pages on California extradition laws and Nevada extradition laws.
We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.
- CRS 16-19-104 (Form of Demand); Layher v. Van Cleave, (1970) 171 Colo. 465, 468 P.2d 32.
- CRS 16-19-103 (Fugitives from Justice); Briddle v. Caldwell, (Colo. 1981) 628 P.2d 613.
- United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Services.
- Same as footnote 1.