Virginia Crimina Law: Extradition

In the modern world, people move around a lot. This often creates problems when someone has been charged with a crime in one state and moves to another. For example, a person could be charged with Assault and Battery in Texas and then subsequently move to Virginia before he has a court date.

In that scenario, Texas may be able to force Virginia to return that person. This is a process known as extradition. Extradition is a long and complicated process. However, it is important to know what extradition is if you are in Virginia and are ever presented with a question about extradition, such as should you waive it or not.

So what is extradition, and how does it work?

Extradition Law

Extradition is governed by a law known as the “Uniform Criminal Extradition Act.” Some states have decided not to adopt the act, so it is important to seek out a local attorney to determine if your state is one of them. Either way, Virginia has adopted the Act.

The act creates a set of procedures that have to be followed by an outside state, such as Kentucky, for the return of a fugitive. These procedures include deadlines, procedures for arrest, and protections for the accused.

Extradition Arrest Procedures

The first thing that can happen which initiates extradition proceedings is the arrest of an individual accused of fleeing another state. This can happen many different ways. Sometimes, this may involve the independent action of the state where the accused is now located. Sometimes the original state may ask the new state for help in obtaining custody of the individual.

The three major ways a person can be arrested include;

  1. A governor’s warrant for arrest based upon contact from another state;

  2. A fugitive warrant from another state; or,

  3. Arrest by a police officer based upon suspicion of being a fugitive.

Each of these different methods for arrest come with different procedures that must be followed. There are any number of ways that one of these routes could be defective. For example, if a governor’s warrant is issued, there are many different forms that must be required. If you are arrested by an officer, the officer must not be violating any of your constitutionally protected rights.

Deadlines for Extradition

If you have been arrested for being a fugitive from another state, there are several deadlines you need to be aware of. Failure to follow these deadlines could result in your release.

Upon arrest, the accused has the right to demand a hearing on whether extradition is warranted in their particular case. This is accomplished through a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

If, at the hearing, the Judge determines the person should be held, the individual can be held for an initial term of thirty (30) days, unless that person is eligible for and receives bail. A hearing will then be held within those thirty (30) days. In the event that the other state has done nothing to pursue the extradition within those thirty (30) days, then the judge can extend that time for an additional sixty (60) days. In the event that the other state has requested a governor's warrant, the timeline may be increased to 180 days.

Benefits of Waiving Extradition

In some scenarios, it may be beneficial to waive your right to an extradition hearing. The major benefits of waiving a hearing include, but are not limited to, a smaller window of time for the other state to come pick you up and the possibility of getting credit for time served.

Why You Need a Lawyer

It is important to hire a lawyer to represent you throughout this process. There are many opportunities for an experienced criminal lawyer to argue for release pending a hearing, to argue at a hearing that the extradition is improper, or to advise you on whether or not to waive extradition. Every case is unique, and it is beneficial to understand your rights and have a better understanding of the extradition process so you can make an informed decision.