Extradition is the formal process where the United States seeks to have a foreign country turn over a suspect so that the person can face criminal charges in the United States.
Extradition proceedings are complicated. First, the US cannot force a foreign country to extradite a suspect. Extradition is governed by treaties between countries. The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of countries that have extradition treaties with the United States. Over 120 countries have extradition treaties with the U.S., but about 75 countries do not. And even among those countries that have a treaty, treaties often forbid extradition in many cases.
Whether a person can be extradited to the US involves an understanding of federal and international law as well as extradition treaties. And since an extradition may result in a substantial risk that a person will end up in a US prison, extradition proceedings should only he handled by experts.
To successfully fight an extradition requires an in-depth understanding of the law and the complex legal procedures involved, as well as the ability to convince prosecutors or the Department of State that extradition is unlawful under the circumstances at hand.
The extradition process begins with the State Department “Office of International Affairs” (OIA) making an initial determination that the person can be extradited given the facts of the case and the US and international laws and treaties. Even when an extradition treaty does exist between the US and a foreign county, such country may refuse to extradite a person under various exceptions to the treaty.
Extradition requests are often very sensitive given the identity of the suspect, or the relationship between the United States and the foreign country.
Several factors determine whether the US will seek extradition, such as:
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