International Extradition Process

A Quick Overview of the International Extradition Process

Since ancient times, states and countries have entered extradition treaties to be able to pursue fleeing fugitives and other wanted individuals. In these treaties, nations agree to extradite to each other individuals who have been charged or found guilty of an extraditable offense. 

International extradition has become even more crucial in these times, especially with the prevalence of transnational criminal organizations. 

To help you understand this process better, we’ve summarized its key points in the sections below. 

What is Extradition? 

This is the formal process in which a nation requests the return of a person found in one country for criminal trial or punishment. The crime in question is committed outside the state of refuge and is punishable by the laws of the requesting state. 

The United States has extradition treaties with more than a hundred countries, as well as the European Union. Furthermore, extradition can take place within it in state-to-state extradition. 

Who are Extraditable Persons? 

Fundamentally, extraditable persons are those who are charged with a crime but are not yet tried; those who are tried and convicted but have escaped; and those who are convicted through trial in absentia. 

With that said, certain factors can affect whether or not an individual can be extradited. Primarily, the laws of the countries involved can significantly influence this, along with the presence (or absence) of a treaty. 

It’s also worth mentioning that some treaties exclude the extradition of a national of the requested state. For example, the United States will not—in most cases—extradite one of its citizens seeking refuge in the country if he or she has committed a crime in another nation. 

What are Extraditable Offenses? 

Treaties signed in recent decades categorize crimes which are punishable in both countries as extraditable. Furthermore, they only allow extradition for crimes with a punishment of at least one-year imprisonment. 

Furthermore, extraditable offenses are not limited to the act of committing the offense. They also include the attempt or conspiracy to commit an extraditable offense. Lastly, crimes related to taxes, customs duties, and foreign exchange are also counted. 

Can Extradition be Refused? 

Aside from the extradition of a country’s own citizen, there are other scenarios where extradition can be refused. 

For instance, a nation may refuse to extradite people who may face torture or even the death penalty in the requesting nation, especially if it goes against their beliefs and values. 

How Does the International Extradition Process Work? 

Here is a simple outline of the process:  

The United States starts by filing a complaint in any U.S. court. In this complaint, the charges, as well as the treaty requirements to extradite an individual, are mentioned. Afterwards, a warrant for the person’s apprehension is prepared and forwarded to the Secretary of State. The Secretary will then get in touch with the foreign government to begin the international extradition process. 

However, it doesn’t end there. The receiving nation will first look into its obligations as mentioned in the treaty as well as its own extradition laws. It will then decide on whether or not to extradite. 

Extraditing a person without a treaty is also possible. The United States can negotiate with the non-extradition treaty country; however, the receiving nation can also refuse. 


This is just a quick overview of the international extradition process. Understanding at least the fundamentals of it will certainly be helpful, especially if you or a loved one is facing such a process. However, to ensure the best possible result, it is still best to seek the expertise of a criminal lawyer. This process can significantly change lives, so you need a professional who will fight to protect you. 

If you require the expertise of a criminal defense attorney in Boston, MA, we’re the ones to call. With more than 25 years of experience in criminal cases, Frank Fernandez strives to achieve the best possible outcome for its clients. Get in touch with us today to get a free consultation regarding your case.