What Happens When One Faces a Criminal Charge from Another State

A story we reviewed recently on our Morristown criminal defense law blog involved one detail that may have raised questions in the minds of some readers. Our previous post discussed a defendant from a southern state who was extradited to New Jersey to face criminal charges. According to the source article, the defendant “waived extradition” upon being arrested.

Just what is meant by extradition, one may ask, and how does it work? What rights does a defendant have when facing extradition to another state? Admittedly, these are not issues with which Morristown residents will likely be familiar, but for those facing criminal charges in another state (or those whom New Jersey is seeking to extradite), it is important to understand what is happening.

Interstate extradition is governed by federal law. Article IV, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution allows a state with jurisdiction over a crime to request that another state arrest and return a suspect to the state where the crime allegedly occurred. There are, however, factors that states may take into consideration in reviewing a request for extradition. These factors range from having the proper documentation in order to whether or not the person being extradited has been charged with the crime itself.

At this point, defendants could waive the proceedings altogether and go of their own free will to face a criminal trial in the other state. They could, alternately, seek to challenge their extradition. This can be done through what is called a writ of habeus corpus.

Whether a defendant waives extradition or tries to contest it, a criminal defense professional is an important resource during this time. Defendants will want to make sure they are aware of their rights at every step in the extradition process and are informed of the potential long-term consequences before exercising any options.

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