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Misconceptions about extradition out of Canada

The stakes of any criminal offence are high. A person can be looking at jail or prison time, financial penalties and a stained criminal record. However, if you are also facing extradition, there is even more on the line.

In this situation, misconceptions about your rights and legal options can have devastating consequences. Following are some of the more common misconceptions people have about this process.

Misconception: If a country requests extradition, Canadian authorities will automatically arrest and turn over the individual.

This is an oversimplification of the extradition process, as it leaves out several components that affect whether authorities turn someone over to another country.

There is a process that authorities must follow. This process, which you can read about in more detail in this article, involves three phases:

  • The Department of Justice Canada determines whether to issue an Authority to Proceed. 
  • If it does issue an Authority to Proceed, there is a hearing in front of an extradition judge who decides whether to commit the person sought for extradition.
  • If the judge commits a person for extradition, the Minister of Justice decides whether to surrender the person or not. If the Minister orders surrender, only then will a person be turned over.

In other words, just because a country requests the arrest and extradition of someone does not mean Canadian authorities will immediately turn the person over.

Misconception: It’s better to surrender.

Individuals do have the option to waive their rights and consent to surrender any time after an arrest or appearance. Doing so can expedite the process, which can seem appealing.

However, giving up your rights is not a decision to make lightly. And while the process moves faster after waiving your rights, it could come at the expense of your best interests and ability to remain in Canada.

Misconception: Individuals have no control over extradition.

It is true that individuals cannot request extradition; the request must come from government agencies.

However, this does not mean individuals have no control over extradition.

You have the right to defend yourself in court and appeal decisions that are unfair. You can work with a lawyer to fight against extradition or attach favourable conditions, and you can negotiate terms regarding bail, charges and possible sentences. In all these ways, you could have a dramatic impact on the outcome of your extradition case.

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