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Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act

The prosecutor with the State Attorney's Office has a duty to act with due diligence to secure the speedy return of prisoners held in other states. The first step the State must take to secure such a speedy return is to lodge a detainer against the defendant in the state in which the defendant is incarcerated.

A detainer “ ‘is a request filed by a criminal justice agency with the institution in which a prisoner is incarcerated, asking the institution either to hold the prisoner for the agency or to notify the agency when release of the prisoner is imminent.' ” Moore v. State, 137 So. 3d 611, 612 n.1 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) (quoting Gethers v. State, 838 So. 2d 504, 507 (Fla. 2003)).

“Detainers informally put officials on notice that the defendant is wanted in another jurisdiction.” Gethers, 838 So. 2d at 507.


Attorneys on the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act (IADA) in Florida

If you have an outstanding warrant in another state, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in that jurisdiction to find out more about how to resolve that case. The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm represent clients with pending fugitive warrants. We help our clients avoid extradition, when possible. We work hard to resolve the underlying case on the best possible terms. 

Extradition between states is expensive and dangerous. Our attorneys have helped clients avoid extradition to Florida. Call us to find out more at 813-250-0500.


Notice of a Detainer Being Lodged

Pursuant to the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act, once a detainer has been lodged against a defendant, the warden or other official having custody of the prisoner “shall promptly inform the prisoner of the source and contents of any detainer lodged against him or her and shall also inform the prisoner of his or her right to make a request for final disposition of the indictment, information, or complaint on which the detainer is based.” § 941.45(Art. III)(c), Fla. Stat. (2004).

It is through this notice of a detainer that the defendant is informed of his right to request a speedy trial on the pending out-of-state charges.


The Right to a Speedy Trial when the Detainer is Lodged

If the State of Florida failed to provide evidence that it lodged a detainer against appellant, then the defendant can seek a dismissal of the charges by showing that the State violated his or her constitutional right to a speedy trial when it waits to look to prosecute the case.

The United States Supreme Court has determined that “the 180-day time period in Article III(a) of the IADA does not commence until the prisoner's request for final disposition of the charges against him has actually been delivered to the court and prosecuting officer of the jurisdiction that lodged the detainer against him.” Fex v. Michigan, 507 U.S. 43, 52 (1993).

The State has the burden to prove that it lodged a detainer against appellant and when the detainer was lodged. In other words, if the defense counsel can show during the hearing that the State did not properly lodged a detainer against appellant while he was incarcerated out of state, then at that point, it was the State's burden to prove that it had filed a detainer against appellant in a timely manner.

For example, in Howell, 418 So. 2d at 1173, the court noted “[t]he burden to account for such [prosecutorial] delay, however, is decidedly upon the prosecution”. In Niles, 120 So. 3d at 664, the court found that “ ‘[b]ecause the prosecutor and the court have an affirmative constitutional obligation to try the defendant in a timely manner . . . the burden is on the prosecution to explain the cause of the pretrial delay.' ” (quoting United States v. Ingram, 446 F.3d 1332, 1337 (11th Cir. 2006)).

In some cases, the State Attorney’s Office will have a policy not to extradite out-of-state defendants, but rather to allow their detainers to remain intact until their out-of-state sentences have expired.


History of the IADA

The IADA is a compact entered into by forty-eight States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and United States. Monroe v. State, 978 So. 2d 177, 179 (Fla. 2d DCA 2007). The act presumes that prison treatment and rehabilitation programs are negatively impacted by a prisoner's lengthy absence from a jurisdiction in connection with outstanding charges.

To counter problems with the negative impact on the prisoner, the IADA encourages the expeditious and orderly disposition of any and all detainers based on untried indictments, informations, or complaints. See § 941.45(I), Fla. Stat. (2011).

The IADA was enacted to prevent the obstruction of programs of treatment or rehabilitation frustrated by long absences in connection with successive proceedings related to pending charges in another jurisdiction.

The purpose of the IADA is to prevent difficulties in securing speedy trials of persons incarcerated in other jurisdictions and to minimize the time during which there is an inherent danger that a prisoner may forego preferred treatment or rehabilitation benefits.


Florida Statute § 941.45(III)(a)

Under the IADA, a prisoner must be brought to trial within 180 days of his request for a final disposition of charges to the extent he has entered upon “a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution of a party state.” § 941.45(III)(a), Fla. Stat. (2011). The statute provides:

(III) REQUEST FOR FINAL DISPOSITION

(a) Whenever a person has entered upon a term of imprisonment in a penal or correctional institution of a party state, and whenever during the continuance of the term of imprisonment there is pending in any other party state any untried indictment, information, or complaint on the basis of which a detainer has been lodged against the prisoner, he or she shall be brought to trial within 180 days after the prisoner shall have caused to be delivered to the prosecuting officer and the appropriate court of the prosecuting officer's jurisdiction written notice of the place of his or her imprisonment and the prisoner's request for a final disposition to be made of the indictment, information, or complaint . . . . The request of the prisoner shall be accompanied by a certificate of the appropriate official having custody of the prisoner, stating the term of commitment under which the prisoner is being held, the time already served, the time remaining to be served on the sentence, the amount of good time earned, the time of parole eligibility of the prisoner, and any decisions of the state parole agency relating to the prisoner.

The request of the prisoner shall be accompanied by a certificate of the appropriate official having custody of the prisoner, stating the term of commitment under which the prisoner is being held, the time already served, the time remaining to be served on the sentence, the amount of good time earned, the time of parole eligibility of the prisoner, and any decisions of the state parole agency relating to the prisoner.

Id. Federal law governs the interpretation of the IADA, State v. Edwards, 509 So. 2d 1161, 1163 (Fla. 5th DCA 1987), which states it is to be “liberally construed so as to effectuate its purposes.” § 941.45(IX), Fla. Stat. (2011).

Neither the term “imprisonment” or the phrase “penal or correctional institution of a party state” is defined by the IADA. A “term of imprisonment” has been described as “that definable period of time during which a prisoner must be confined in order to complete or satisfy the [p]rison term or sentence which has been ordered.” United States v. Dobson, 585 F.2d 55, 58-59 (3d Cir. 1978) (explaining further that because a pretrial detainee's confinement is tentative and dependent upon verdict at trial and imposition of sentence, he has no “immediate interest” in institutional rehabilitation or treatment). 


The IADA's Distinction Between State Prison and Local Jail Facilities

The courts have sometimes made a distinction between state prison and local jail facilities when deciding whether prisoners serving sentences in county jails may avail themselves of the IADA.

The Nevada Supreme Court has held that a jail is not a penal or correctional institution based on the assumption that jails do not offer rehabilitative services. See State v. Wade, 772 P.2d 1291, 1294 (Nev. 1989).

The Colorado Court of Appeals held that, for the purposes of the IADA, facilities, including county jails, where inmates are sentenced to incarceration are “penal or correctional institutions of a party state.” See People v. Walton, 167 P.3d 163, 166 (Colo. App. 2007). In that case, the Colorado court determined that construing “penal or correctional institutions” to include jails as well as prisons was consistent with the purpose of the IADA since some defendants may be ordered to serve their sentences in a jail that may offer rehabilitative programs the same as prisons often do.

The Tennessee Supreme Court found “that a ‘term of imprisonment' begins when a prisoner has been sentenced and confined, even when the prisoner is serving the sentence in a temporary detention facility or a county jail.” State v. Springer, 406 S.W.3d 526, 538 (Tenn. 2013).


This article was last updated on Thursday, March 23, 2017.