Y’all Come Back, Ya Hear: Extradition in Florida

Florida’s climate and the host of tourist attractions draw scores of visitors from around the world. Orlando, with its central location, receives a large share of these visitors.

In 2009, Orlando received 46 million visitors, who spent more than $26 billion. In 2011, the number of visitors is expected to top 53 million. After visiting Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World and all the other area attractions, those visitors will return home.

But out of all of those millions of visitors, a select few will receive a formal request from the Governor of Florida to return. They will have received order for extradition.

Florida Extradition

It will be alleged that these tourists have committed a crime while in Florida, and in order to bring them to trial, Florida needs them to return. The formal return of a person who is charged with a crime in another state to stand trial is known as extradition.

Constitutional Clause

Extradition is important enough that it has its own section in the U.S. Constitution. It is located in Article. IV, § 2, cl. 2, and states:

“A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.”

Extradition is necessary to easily allow the transfer of wanted or convicted persons between the states – whose governments are otherwise sovereign, and not subject to the actions of another state. The drafters of the constitution wanted to prevent one state from becoming a haven for those fleeing the law in another state.

Because of the Constitutional clause, the authority for extradition is federal law, but the individual states are allowed to determine the particular procedure in each state.

Uniform Interstate Extradition Act

Florida and most other states have enacted the Uniform Interstate Extradition Act.

Under this legislation, the governor of the asylum state is required, when asked by the proper authorities of another state, to have arrested and delivered to the state requesting their return, any person who is physically present in the asylum state and is charged with a crime in the demanding state.

Extradition is a summary and mandatory executive proceeding and not a criminal offense. An extradition proceeding is used to return suspects for trial in the state where the alleged offense occurred.

It is related to the criminal case, but is a civil hearing. The person whose extradition is sought has a hearing in Florida, but the purpose of the hearing is very limited.

How Does An Extradition Occur?

Extradition from a state is controlled by that state’s law. This is the procedure that another state would follow if it wanted to extradite a person from Florida.

This process could be different for another state, but because all the states have adopted the Uniform Interstate Extradition Act, the process is often similar.

Generally, a person is arrested, based on the request of another state. The other state files a fugitive complaint against the person. They could be held in jail or released on bail, awaiting the warrant from the governor.

The person can waive the extradition proceedings and voluntarily return to the state extraditing them, or they can challenge the extradition.

If the person contests the charge, in Florida there would be a hearing to determine if the person is the fugitive identified in the warrant from the other state.

The judge needs to review the documents to determine if there is an indictment, warrant or judgment – as this provides the evidence that there is either probable cause for the arrest or they have already been convicted of the offense.

The governor of Florida reviews the request from the other state, and if it appears valid, the governor orders the extradition hearing. During the hearing, the court does not inquire into the guilt or innocence of the person.

The U.S. Supreme Court has said that once the governor of a state grants extradition, a court considering release can do no more than decide:

  • whether the extradition documents are in order on their face,
  • whether the petitioner has been charged with a crime in the demanding state,
  • whether the petitioner is the person named in the extradition request, and
  • whether the petitioner is a fugitive

Your Process Could Vary

If Florida has requested your return, your state is the “asylum” state, and its procedures will govern the request.

If the extradition request to your governor from Florida is found to be valid, you will be returned to Florida for trial. At that point, you will want an attorney licensed in Florida to assist in your defense.