If you or a loved one is facing prosecution in a foreign country, extradition could be on the horizon. This transfer is complicated, stressful and often quite frightening. Under these circumstances, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It can take time
Investigators and law enforcement agencies often devote massive resources to investigating a crime or violation before formally requesting extradition.
Therefore, sometimes, it takes years for extraditions to occur. For instance, it took nearly 50 years for a former Canadian resident to face extradition and make his first court appearance on murder charges. In that time, genealogy technology advanced considerably, and the 81-year-old man, who now has dementia, allegedly confessed to investigators. These developments helped move the cold case forward.
In other words, even after people leave a country, attempt to start a new life and try to move on, old charges can come back to haunt them.
Foreign governments have different rules
Extradition requires participation from multiple countries, which adds to the complexity of the situation. There are legal systems and law enforcement officials involved in all those involved, and navigating the procedures, standards and rules is no easy task.
Thus, it is vital for those facing extradition to have legal counsel. Legal representatives can play essential roles in negotiating with country officials, arguing to stop extradition, and disputing charges and sentences.
Extradition isn’t automatic
Just because a country requests extradition doesn’t mean that it will happen. While the exact processes can vary between countries, generally, government officials will review a proposal and available evidence and determine whether both countries recognize the alleged criminal conduct.
Then, there are hearings and determinations on whether a person must or will surrender. In some cases, a person may refuse to surrender or state why extradition is unjustifiable. Parties can also choose to appeal an extradition decision.
The stakes of extradition and foreign prosecution are incredibly high, and people must understand what is on the line. However, they must also recognize that individuals have rights worth protecting and there are processes in place to protect against unfair actions.