Extradition: What You Need to Know

Extradition attorney in Michigan, David J. Kramer

It’s not often that you see a story about someone getting extradited to Michigan for a crime.

Alison Ray, originally from Saginaw County, was extradited from Tennessee on child abuse charges. In February of 2019, Ray and her husband brought their five-month-old son to the hospital with seizure-like symptoms.

When hospital workers found evidence of several brain bleeds and other injuries, it led to the termination of parental rights for Alison Ray and her husband.

The Rays then moved to Tennessee. Michigan authorities requested her extradition for first-degree child abuse, which is an offense carrying a possible life sentence.

Ray’s husband is imprisoned in Texas so that Michigan authorities won’t be seeking extradition for him. Ray has pleaded guilty to fourth-degree child abuse and sentenced to 120 days of jail time, followed by probation.

The news story only shares the bare facts about this case. We don’t know the specific suspected abuse that would cause authorities to terminate parental rights. We don’t know why they decided to move to Tennessee. Was it in an attempt to avoid prosecution?

Extradition Basics

Extradition refers to the process of one state giving someone in its custody over to another state for criminal prosecution.

More commonly, we hear about criminal extradition when it involves American citizens fleeing to other countries or foreign nationals seeking to hide in the United States to avoid criminal charges.

However, each state of our union also can extradite felons from other states or sometimes nations.

Most states of the union follow the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. There is an extradition clause in our constitution. It gives the federal government the right to govern extradition between states.

Most states of our union have adopted these guidelines. However, the fact that our states have their own governments makes extradition tricky in this country. Under our laws, states do not have authority over someone found in another state.

So, if someone commits a crime in Ohio and comes here to Michigan, that person could potentially evade justice if he does not commit a crime in Michigan and come to the attention of the police.

Moreover, some criminals take advantage of this and try to flee to other states. An article in the USA Today from 2014 is an in-depth look at how many states will not pursue criminals who have flown to neighboring states. 

What Happens If You’re Extradited?

The reason some cities aren’t pursuing alleged rapists, thieves, drunk drivers, and sometimes murderers in neighboring states is that, sometimes, prosecutors don’t have a strong enough case against them and therefore won’t spend the state’s money. It’s a multi-step process.

The governor of the home state has to sign an executive authority demand to the harboring state. Authorities have to produce a copy of the indictment that shows the charges against the fugitive.

Sometimes, states will notify other states when they have apprehended a fugitive with a warrant in another state. This can happen when the fugitive has either been arrested for some other crime, or gets flagged at a traffic stop, or sometimes the home state requests that the harboring state find and apprehend the fugitive.

Extradition is not fun. It involves imprisonment in various states and a bus trip with other escapees.

If you are being extradited, you will probably end up paying for your own bus fare and for the salary of the authorities sent to retrieve you, plus overtime.

Alternatives to Extradition

If you are being held on a Governor’s Warrant – which means your home state is in the process of requesting an extradition – you have rights. You have the right to a contested hearing in court, the right to an attorney, and the right to request release on bond.

If you can be successfully released on bond, you are promising to report to the state issuing the warrant on your own. You can avoid the expensive and degrading process of being shipped back.

Michigan Extradition Attorney

If you are facing extradition, obtaining an experienced lawyer should be your first priority. This will increase your chances of being released on bond (bail), and it can change the way the entire criminal process unfolds, as well as allowing you to keep your life afloat.

If you have any questions about extradition or getting released on bond, call my office today for your free consultation.

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