People freely cross state lines in the United States. When someone is wanted by law enforcement authorities across state lines, an arrest warrant is often issued. When a person in Pennsylvania is arrested and detained on behalf of another state, the process is called extradition. It is important for individuals and families to understand this often daunting and potentially confusing process.
An individual may find themselves arrested in Pennsylvania as a “fugitive from justice,” a term for someone who is wanted by a court and has not been properly before a judge. Two Federal laws control how extradition from one state to another: The Federal Fugitive Act, 18 U.S.C.A. § 3182; and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. § 9121 et. seq.
What Happens When Someone Is Arrested?
When an individual is arrested as a fugitive from justice, there are specific rules that must be followed by Pennsylvania and the demanding state. The outcome is that the fugitive is either extradited to the demanding state, or released from Pennsylvania custody.
After an individual is arrested on behalf of another state, Pennsylvania will notify the demanding state. The demanding state may request that Pennsylvania hold that individual and make arrangements to send the person to the other state. This is called a “detainer” and we refer to it as being “lodged” against the individual.
Under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, all arrests are treated the same. It does not matter if the arrest is for a criminal prosecution (when a person is facing new criminal charges) or based on a probation or parole violation (when a person is wanted for violating supervision from a prior criminal charge).
The Extradition Process in Pennsylvania
After an individual is retained on a fugitive warrant, the law requires that they be brought in front of a judge as soon as possible. There is then a hearing to tell the individual what they are charged with, to determine if the person arrested is actually the person charged, and to set bail if appropriate. In Pennsylvania, individuals are entitled to bail for all cases except those punishable by life in prison or death.
A “Governor’s Warrant” will then be requested by the demanding state. Pennsylvania’s governor then issues a governor’s warrant. This grants the court in Pennsylvania the authority to decide whether to extradite the individual.
The governor’s warrant must arrive within 30 days of the fugitive’s arrest. If it does not, the individual can be detained for a further 60 days. These time periods start when the individual is arrested in Pennsylvania. Individuals should also be aware that the lodging of a detainer is treated as a separate arrest from the initial arrest under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act.
After the governor’s warrant is issued, the court will schedule a hearing. At that time, the judge must inform the fugitive from justice of the accusations against them, the demand for their return to the demanding state, and the individual’s right to test the legality of the arrest. Many individuals waive these rights and consent to their return to the demanding state.
Fighting an extradition request is a difficult process. An experienced criminal defense attorney will challenge whether the individual was arrested legally; will challenge the validity of the demand from the requesting state; and will challenge whether a crime occurred in the first place. The District Attorney as the prosecutor for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must prove to a prima facie level that all of the requirements for an extradition have been met. Prima facie proof means that the alleged fact is more likely to be true than not.
If you or a loved one is facing possible extradition in Pennsylvania, contact Manchester and Associates today.
Manchester and Associates is a law firm dedicated to criminal defense that operates throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1978. 5-star ratings prove what our firm is all about: making sure that the best possible outcome for our clients is achieved. We use a teamwork approach in all our major cases and one of our team members is a former District Attorney. This gives us an advantage of reviewing your case from both the prosecution and defense side. Our lawyers have handled multiple simple assault cases across the state of Pennsylvania. Let our collective trial experience earned over several decades aid your defense.