Extradition Laws in California


Extradition laws in California refer to the legal process of returning fugitives from justice back to the state in which they allegedly committed a crime or violated their bail, probation or parole.  There are two types of extradition: extraditing a fugitive into California from another state, and extraditing a fugitive from California into another state.

Extradition into California refers to a situation where you have

  • committed a crime in this state,
  • escaped from incarceration in this state, and/or
  • violated the terms/conditions of your bail, probation or parole in this state,

yet you are apprehended in another state before you have resolved these issues. 

Extradition from California refers to a similar situation except that the crime/violation occurs in another state, and you are subsequently apprehended in California.

In either event, California's extradition laws - found in California Penal Code sections 1548-1558 PC - govern both types of extradition.  These laws regulate exactly how each state must proceed, whether they are seeking the extradition (and are therefore known as the demanding or home state) or whether they are responding to the extradition request (and are known as the asylum state).

In this article, our California criminal defense attorneys1 will discuss:

If, after reading this article, you would like more information, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.

cuffs and law book regarding extradition
Extradition is the legal process of transporting a suspected or convicted criminal to another jurisdiction

1. What is Extradition?

Extradition is the legal process of transporting a suspected or convicted criminal to another state or nation so that he/she may stand trial or face sentencing.  The alleged or convicted criminal is known as a "fugitive from justice."  The state/nation where the fugitive escapes imprisonment, commits the alleged crime, or violates the terms/conditions of his/her:

  • bail,
  • probation,
  • parole,

is known as the "home" or "demanding" state/nation.  And the state/nation in which the individual is apprehended is known as the "asylum" state/nation. There are two types of fugitives:

  1. those who are being charged with a crime, who have escaped imprisonment, or who have violated their bail, probation or parole and who have purposely fled the state in which that alleged crime/violation took place in order to avoid punishment or capture, and
  2. those who have traveled or moved unaware that they have done anything wrong or are wanted for criminal proceedings.  These individuals may not even become aware of this fact until, for example, they are pulled over for speeding, and the officer runs a "check" and subsequently arrests them pursuant to an extradition warrant.

With respect to extradition, it doesn't matter which type of fugitive you are, as California's extradition laws equally apply to both.

1.1. California and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA)

California - along with every other state except South Carolina, Louisiana and Mississippi - has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act ("UCEA").  The UCEA regulates interstate extradition.  It is codified in California's Penal Code sections 1548-1558 PC.

The UCEA establishes clear steps that each state must follow -- whether they are the demanding state or the asylum state -- when they are involved in interstate extradition.

And although there is a federal law that also regulates interstate extradition, the UCEA is more common and...as a result...it is this Act on which all of our articles on California extradition will focus.

1.2. Federal law regarding extradition

The federal law that pertains to extradition is found in the United States Constitution2 and in the United States Code.3 Unlike the UCEA, which sets forth the exact procedures that states must follow when they are seeking to extradite a fugitive, the federal law simply summarizes the extradition process as follows:

When the demanding state wishes to extradite a fugitive from the asylum state, it must deliver an indictment or affidavit charging the alleged fugitive with a crime.  The asylum state must then arrest the named individual and keep him/her for up to 30 days until an agent from the demanding state comes to claim him/her.  If no agent comes, the asylum state will release the prisoner.

For the most part, these laws are in sync with each other; the UCEA is just more specific.  But if/when there is a discrepancy, the federal law controls.

2. How does a person get extradited back into California?

If, while in California, you

  1. allegedly commit a crime,
  2. escape imprisonment, or
  3. violate the terms of your
    • bail,
    • probation, or
    • parole,

and then for whatever reason flee the state, California may seek to have you extradited back to this state.  When this is the case, California is the demanding state, and the state in which you are found is known as the asylum state.

But before California will demand your return, it must weigh the time and expense of bringing you back to this state against the severity of the crime/violation of which you are accused.  If it decides that extradition is appropriate, there is a series of steps that it must follow in order to secure your extradition into California.

These steps include:

  1. issuing a proper demand to the asylum state for your return,
  2. sending an agent to receive you in the asylum state within 30 days of your arrest, and
  3. bringing you back to this state to return to
    • answer to the charges,
    • be sentenced, or
    • be reincarcerated.

Each of these steps is discussed in detail in our article on Extradition into California.

3. How does a person get extradited from California to another state?

But as Ventura criminal defense attorney Darrell York4 explains, "When California is the asylum state, we must follow different steps in order to determine whether to extradite you back to the demanding state.  Just because another state claims that you violated its laws doesn't mean that California will automatically return you without further investigation."

California law requires that we ensure that you are the actual person being sought by that state before we surrender you to their agents. Extradition laws from California involve

  1. receiving a proper demand from the home state,
  2. issuing a California Governor's warrant, and
  3. conducting a probable cause / identification hearing to ensure that you are not being falsely accused or improperly subject to extradition.

Each of these steps is discussed at length in our article on Extradition from California.

4. Can a person fight an extradition order?

There are a variety of California legal defenses that come into play with extradition.  The two most common are that

  1. there are fatal flaws with the extradition paperwork that will render the extradition invalid, and
  2. you are the victim of mistaken identity...that is, you are not the actual individual that the home state is seeking.

But the unfortunate reality is that you will most likely have to present these defenses from jail. Extradition typically involves a "guilty until proven innocent" philosophy, since it is premised on the fact that you are a "fugitive from justice" and have already fled to escape punishment.

However, depending on the facts of your alleged violation...and on the skill of your criminal defense attorney...he/she may be able to negotiate a deal that would allow you to

Call us for help...

Img call for help

If you or a loved one is in need of help with Penal Code sections 1548-1558 PC extradition laws and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

Additionally, our Las Vegas Nevada criminal defense attorneys are available to answer any questions about extradition in Nevada.  For more information, we invite you to contact our local attorneys at one of our Nevada law offices, located in Reno and Las Vegas. For Colorado cases, please see our page on extradition laws in Colorado.

Legal References

  1. Our California criminal defense attorneys have local Los Angeles law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.  We have additional law offices conveniently located throughout the state in Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, Oakland, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities.

  2. US Const art IV, §2(2).  Extradition.  

  3. 18 U.S. Code 3182 -- Fugitives from State or Territory to State, District, or Territory - Extradition.  

  4. Ventura criminal defense lawyer Darrell York uses his former experience as a Glendale Police Officer to represents clients at the Ventura Hall of Justice, the Van Nuys courthouse, the Pasadena courthouse, the Burbank courthouse, the Glendale courthouse, the Lancaster courthouse, the San Fernando courthouse, and the Criminal Courts Building.

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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.

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