Extradition from Another State into Colorado

Extradition into Colorado is the legal process of bringing back a "fugitive from justice" to Colorado -- 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 Governor's Warrant

The extradition process begins with a governor's warrant. When a person is wanted in the State of Colorado, but a person is currently within another state, Colorado must:

  • procure a written document in accordance with the procedures of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, and
  • have it signed by the governor of the state where the person currently is, and
  • list it with the United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC).

Included in the governor's warrant is:

  • the Governor's signature;
  • sealed with the state seal;
  • with directions to a peace officer or other person who can execute the warrant; and
  • the warrant must substantially recite the facts necessary to ensure its validity.

Will Colorado seek extradition for every crime?

Colorado is allowed to seek extradition for any crime committed, including:

However, because of the cost, Colorado typically only extradites for serious felonies, such as:

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the process to extradite someone to Colorado:

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Extradition into Colorado is the legal process of bringing back a "fugitive from justice" to Colorado -- the state in which he or she allegedly committed a crime.

1. What is the basic process for extraditing someone into Colorado?

Extradition is the legal process of bringing back a "fugitive from justice" to the state of Colorado because he or she committed a crime within the state.1 The basic process for extradition into Colorado is as follows:

  • Request by another state for the fugitive;
  • Preparation and signing of a governor's warrant by the Governor of Colorado;
  • Arrest of fugitive (if not already in custody);
  • Writ of habeas corpus hearing;
  • Extradition to demanding state.

2. What information is included in the Governor's Warrant?

The extradition process begins with a governor's warrant. When a person is wanted in the State of Colorado, Colorado must:

  • procure a written document in accordance with the procedures of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, and
  • cause it to be signed by the governor of the state, and
  • list it with the United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC).2

To ensure the validity of the governor's warrant, the following must be included in it:

  • the Governor's signature sealed with the state seal;
  • directions to a peace officer or other person who will execute the warrant; and
  • a substantial recitation of the facts. 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 when the State of Colorado wants a fugitive returned to Colorado, it is the governor of the other state (the "asylum state") who signs the governor's warrant.4

The governor of the "asylum state" is responsible for ensuring that the specific procedures for extradition have all been followed. If the process has been followed, the governor must:

  • issue a warrant for the arrest of the requested person; or, if already in custody,
  • arrange for transportation of the requested individual; and
  • make the person available for pickup to Colorado officers.

3. Which states are party to the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act?

48 of the 50 states in the U.S. have adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. The only two states that have not adopted the Act are:

  • Missouri, and
  • South Carolina.

Either state could adopt the act in the future, depending on the choice of its legislature. Until then, Colorado must follow any laws set forth for extradition within those states as well as federal law.

3.1 Is every state's extradition law the same?

Just because these 48 states have adopted the UCEA does not mean that the laws are the same in each of the member states. Typically, if changes are made, the extradition requirements are made to be more strict than under the model act.

Many states feel that extradition should be a difficult process meant to protect the rights of its citizens from unnecessary removal. For those facing extradition, there are steps your legal counsel can take to protect your rights and fight removal if and when possible.

3.2 What happens if a fugitive flees to a non-UCEA state?

Just because Missouri and South Carolina have not adopted the UCEA does not mean that those two states will not extradite. Each state will make its own decision about whether to ask for extradition and whether to extradite, based on its own laws.

Each of these two states has its own extradition laws, and Colorado must comply with the laws of the asylum state in order to succeed in its request.5 So long as a state's law does not violate federal law, Colorado must follow the procedures set by the asylum state.

4. For what criminal activity will the State of Colorado pursue extradition?

Colorado will not seek to extradite those in another state for every crime. The reason is that the extradition process can be incredibly expensive. It is not uncommon for the process to cost between $2,000 - $4,000 or more, depending on the facts of the case.

Colorado is allowed to seek extradition for any crime committed, including:

  • Felonies,
  • misdemeanors, and
  • petty offenses.

However, because of the cost, Colorado typically only extradites for serious felonies, like:

  • murder and other homicides;
  • rape;
  • sexual assault;
  • theft involving a substantial sum; and
  • major drug trafficking cases.

This is not a guarantee against being pulled from another state back into the State of Colorado. There might be other circumstances where the state feels it is "worth it" to pull a person back, even for a lesser offense.

This is especially true when a case has received media attention or has an impact on the political process. These external influence should not influence your case, but sadly they all to often do exactly that.

Call us

Call us for help...

For questions about the extradition process into 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.


Legal References:

  1. CRS 16-19-104 (Form of Demand).
  2. United States National Crime Information Center (NCIC). Services.
  3. CRS 16-19-108 (Issue of Governor's Warrant).12
  4. Same as footnote 1.
  5. Mo. Rev. Stat. 548.021 et seq (Missouri Extradition); S.C. Code Ann. 17-9-10 et seq (South Carolina Extradition).

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