International Extradition

In our increasingly interconnected world, the likelihood of facing international extradition issues has grown, making it crucial to comprehend the intricacies of extradition laws and treaties, the principle of dual criminality, and potential defense strategies.


As a federal criminal defense attorney from the Kolsrud Law Office, we specialize in handling federal criminal cases and have the expertise to help individuals navigate the complex international extradition process.

❗According to the United States Department of Justice, approximately 1,500 people were extradited to the U.S. over the last decade. The high-profile nature of these cases and the complex laws governing them highlight the importance of understanding international extradition.

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Understanding the Principle of Dual Criminality in International Extradition

The concept of dual criminality is a central tenet in international extradition law. Under Arizona Revised Statutes and United States Code, dual criminality means that for extradition to occur, the act committed must be considered a crime in both the requesting and surrendering countries.


As detailed in Title 18, Section 3181 of the United States Code, dual criminality often safeguards against extradition for acts that aren't considered criminal in the country where the individual resides. This principle is critical in maintaining sovereign respect and upholding the individual rights of the accused.


In practice, dual criminality can lead to complex legal arguments, particularly in cases involving criminal acts in one jurisdiction but not in another.


This complexity underscores the importance of consulting with a knowledgeable federal criminal defense attorney who can assess the nature of the charges and advise accordingly.

International Extradition

International Extradition Treaties: The U.S. and Global Cooperation

The U.S. Department of State manages a list of nations that have signed extradition treaties with the U.S.


If you live in a country that has an extradition treaty with the U.S. or are attempting to prevent extradition from the U.S. to these countries, a skilled legal professional can provide advice based on the relevant treaty stipulations.


Under certain circumstances, the U.S. may extradite an individual to a country even without a formal treaty. However, this typically applies to non-citizens, non-nationals, and non-permanent residents alleged to have committed violent crimes against U.S. nationals in foreign territories.


Extradition Treaties Often List Specific Crimes for Which Extradition is Allowed.

These treaties also detail exceptions, such as political offenses or potential human rights violations, that could prevent extradition. Understanding these treaties is pivotal for any individual facing potential extradition, as the specific terms can significantly impact the legal strategies employed in their defense.

Navigating the International Extradition Process: From Request to Return

International extradition is a multi-step process that commences with a formal request from the country seeking extradition to the U.S. Department of State. As defined by the United States Code and related Arizona Revised Statutes, this request must include sufficient evidence to support the criminal charges.


Once the request is received, it undergoes a rigorous legal and administrative review, assessing compliance with the relevant treaty provisions and U.S. law. If these stages pass, the case is referred to a U.S. Attorney's office for judicial proceedings.


The final decision lies with the Secretary of State, who, barring any legal barriers, issues the surrender warrant to return the individual to the requesting country. Given the complexity of this process, a competent defense attorney can play a crucial role in effectively managing these steps and building a solid defense strategy.

statute of limitations

Strategies to Counter Federal Extradition Proceedings in the U.S.

Similar to the criminal charges that prompt requests for extradition, a range of potential defenses are specific to the extradition process. Your defense lawyer can conduct a detailed assessment of available defenses, formulate a comprehensive defense strategy, and work with the relevant authorities to safeguard against extradition.


Each extradition case is unique, but some general defense strategies in U.S. and international extradition cases include:

  • 1

    Treaty Exceptions

    All U.S. extradition treaties have certain exemptions which can protect individuals from extradition, even in cases of listed extraditable offenses or offenses covered under dual criminality.


    Standard exceptions across many U.S. extradition treaties include:


    • Double Jeopardy: Extradition can be prevented if the prosecution in the requesting country results in the person being tried twice for the same crime.
    • Risk of Capital Punishment: Countries that do not permit capital punishment can refuse extradition if the U.S. intends to seek the death penalty.
    • Crimes Committed Abroad: Extradition can be denied if the alleged crime was committed outside the requesting country's jurisdiction.
    • Military Crimes: Individuals accused of military offenses are usually exempted from extradition.
    • Politically-Motivated Crimes: Extradition for politically-charged offenses is generally avoided (except for severe violent and terroristic crimes).
  • 2

    Statute of Limitations

    Most U.S. extradition treaties disallow extradition if the statute of limitations for the alleged crime in the requesting country has expired.

  • 3

    Doctrine of Specialty

    This doctrine stipulates that a person, once extradited, can only be prosecuted for the crimes mentioned in the extradition request. It may be possible to use this doctrine to prevent extradition or limit the scope of prosecution.

  • 4

    Insufficient Probable Cause

    The U.S. must ascertain that the "probable cause" requirement, as per the Constitution, would be satisfied for a local prosecution based on the evidence provided by the requesting country. Failure to meet this standard should obstruct extradition from the U.S.

  • 5

    Procedural Defenses

    Various procedural defenses may be used to challenge extradition. Any shortcomings in meeting the procedural prerequisites for extradition can provide a complete or partial defense.

  • 6

    Sixth Amendment Violations

    Extradition may be averted if an undue delay in apprehension or seeking extradition infringes on the right to a speedy trial as outlined in the Sixth Amendment. This is particularly applicable if it can be proven that the relevant authorities.

A skilled federal criminal defense attorney from the Kolsrud Law Office can help navigate these potential defense strategies. With a deep understanding of international extradition laws and a commitment to protecting clients' rights, we can assess the nuances of the case, develop a robust defense strategy, and work diligently to protect our clients against international extradition charges.

Dual Criminality

Being accused doesn't mean you're without rights. These constitutional rights form the bedrock of our justice system and must be respected and upheld throughout the legal process.


Under federal law, you can remain silent under your Miranda Rights, speak to an attorney and have a speedy trial. You also have the right to confront your accusers and to avoid self-incrimination. 

The Importance of Experienced Legal Representation in Federal Cases

International extradition involves a complex interplay of laws and treaties. At the Kolsrud Law Office, we bring our expertise in federal criminal law and a dedicated approach to every client's case.


Whether you're facing an international extradition charge or seeking advice on the matter, don't hesitate to reach out to us. Our primary objective is to protect your rights and provide you with the best possible defense. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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