International Extradition: A US Citizen Can Be Extradited

Handcuffs and International criminal law


If a US citizen is charged with committing a crime in another country, they can be extradited against their will back to that other country to face the charges. There are a number of preliminary issues that need to be reviewed before any decision is made whether to fight the extradition or ‘waive’ the fight and agree to be returned to that other country.


Is there a Treaty between the United States and the Requesting Country?

The first issue that needs to be considered is whether there is a valid Treaty between the two countries that covers the extradition process. A Treaty is a formal agreement between the Countries that has the same effect as a law passed by each of their legislative bodies; and, the application of the Treaty is governed by international law. All countries have an obligation to protect their society from criminal acts; and, to protect their citizens from being improperly charged with – or convicted of – a crime. The effective date of the Treaty (when it was ratified) does not control whether a crime committed before that date can be the basis for an extradition request, although it may become a factor as to whether the extradition will be granted.

Is the Crime Charged Covered by the Extradition Treaty?

The second preliminary issue to be reviewed is whether the alleged criminal activity is covered by the Treaty. In general, the countries agree that certain types of criminal acts will be a basis for the requesting country to seek to have the citizen returned to face the charges. The crime actually charged must be one of the offenses enumerated in the Treaty, or the petition will not be granted by the Court or approved by the US Department of State. An additional question, is what penalty or sentence the extradited person will be facing if they were returned to the requesting country. If for example the punishment was death and the requested country did not approve of this penalty on moral grounds, the petition may be denied.

Has a Formal Extradition Petition been Received by the US?

The last preliminary issue to be considered is whether the Requesting Country has submitted a properly formatted petition that complies with the requirements of the Treaty. A petition must present the basic facts and documentation to support why you are charged with the offense. The petition must be signed by authorized representatives of the requesting country. Assuming all requirements have been met to present a complete petition, you will be required to appear in the US District Court to respond to the demand that you be returned to face the judicial process in the requesting Country.


If you are confronted with a demand for an international extradition, consult immediately with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to determine what your options are. Call Howard Bailey at 973-982-1200 for a free consultation before you make any decisions on how to proceed.