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Extradition on Fugitive Warrants to Florida

The term "fugitive" means any person charged in one state with a felony or misdemeanor who has fled from justice and is found in another state. Extradition is the process of holding a fugitive in custody in one state so that the person can be transported back to the state where the fugitive warrant is outstanding.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm represent men and women on fugitive arrest warrants who are awaiting extradition back to the State of Florida to answer felony criminal charges.

Our offices are located in Tampa in Hillsborough County, FL. Our second office is located in New Port Richey in Pasco County, FL.

We represent clients wanted on a fugitive warrant throughout the greater Tampa Bay area, including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Hernando County, Pinellas County, Manatee County and Polk County, Florida.

In some cases, you can avoid interstate extradition back to Florida by hiring an attorney to begin working on a dismissal of the underlying case. The four attorneys in our firm are focused exclusively on criminal defense. We represent clients facing extradition to or from Florida.

Call 813-250-0500 today to discuss your case.

Does Florida Extradite on a Felony Warrant?

We are often asked: "Does Florida extradite on a felony warrant?"

The short answer is:

Yes. Florida does extradite a fugitive to and from other states on a felony warrant. The procedure is supposed to take about 30 days but can take several times that long. Florida has adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA) and is NOT a "non-extradition state."

The policy behind extradition is to discourage people from fleeing to another jurisdiction to avoid justice. Keep in mind that if you are wanted on a warrant, you are not permitted to possess a firearm or ammunition. The warrant will also interfere with your ability to find a job or secure many types of government benefits.

Does Florida extradite for Misdemeanor Warrants?

We are often asked: "Does Florida extradite on a misdemeanor warrant?"

The short answer is:

No. Florida will only extradite on a felony warrant and will not extradite on a misdemeanor warrant (except for a few limited exceptions). Florida will, however, transport a person from one county in Florida to another on a misdemeanor warrant.

For example, if you have a "no bond" warrant out of Pasco County, FL, but you get picked up in Hillsborough County, then you will be held in Hillsborough County on an out of county hold. You will then be brought to Pasco County where you will be booked into the jail there on the warrant.

Many people arrested on a misdemeanor warrant in Florida are arrested at the airport or when entering or exiting a cruise ship in the Tampa Bay area.

Consequences of Being a Fugitive from Justice - Even on a Misdemeanor

Under Federal law, you lose many of your civil rights while you are a fugitive from justice, even if the crime is just a misdemeanor. If the warrant was issued in Florida and you leave the state of Florida, then you are considered a fugitive from justice. 

While you are a fugitive from justice, you are not allowed to purchase or possess a firearm under Federal law. For example, 18 U.S.C. § 922[g](2) prohibits certain individuals from possessing firearms or ammunition, including anyone who is considered to be a fugitive from justice. 

The term "fugitive from justice" is defined as "Any person who has fled from any State to avoid prosecution for a felony or a misdemeanor; or any person who leaves the State to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding."

The term also includes any person who knows that misdemeanor or felony charges are pending against such person and who leaves the State of prosecution. The penalty for violating this federal law is ten years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine.

The Prosecutor's Discretion in Extradition Cases

The decision whether or not to seek the return of a fugitive from another jurisdiction should rest in the sound discretion of the local prosecutor. In exercising this discretion, the prosecutor may consider certain criteria including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. The disposition that can reasonably be expected if the fugitive is returned and convicted;
  2. The nature of the proceeding for which the fugitive's return is sought;
  3. The future effect of the prosecutor's decision as an indication of policy;
  4. The current status of the defendant;
  5. The expense involved in transportation; and
  6. The likelihood of conviction once the fugitive inmate is returned to Florida.

While this decision is being made, an attorney can contact the prosecutor to show the prosecutor reasons why the prosecutor should decide not to extradite the inmate.

What are the Rules for Extradition in Florida?

The extradition laws in Florida provide for a process of bringing a person arrested out of state on a fugitive warrant back to this state of Florida to answer the criminal charges. Many people sit in jail for weeks or months not knowing that they have options that might help them avoid extradition.

If you have a fugitive warrant then you should contact an attorney in the area where the warrant originated first. (You might also decide to retain an attorney in the jurisdiction where you are being detained so that bail or bond can be set for your release if no relief is granted in the state that issued the warrant.)

The Court that issued the warrant in Florida can also consider setting lifting the warrant temporarily or setting a reasonable bond and allowing you to voluntarily return to Florida to surrender on the warrant.

You should also understand that if you waive extradition, you may be held in custody until authorities from the State of Florida come to get you. The timeline might take longer if you fight extradition.

Either way, you might be held in custody for up to 30 days (or possibly as long as 90 days) to permit the State of Florida to begin extradition proceedings against you and schedule the transportation.

Depending on the circumstances, the Courts in Florida have several options to release you from custody so that you can avoid extradition. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you resolve your case. Find out more about the possibility of avoiding the costly and time-consuming process of extradition.

Your attorney can also help you resolve the underlying felony charges as quickly as possible while still protecting all of your rights to fight the underlying charges aggressively.

Call a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your case by calling 813-250-0500.

Two Types of Florida Extradition Warrants

This article discusses two of the most common situations in which a fugitive warrant requires extradition from one state to another: 

  • Old Violation of Probation Warrant - An individual is put on probation in Florida. The individual moves out of state. The Court in Florida issues a warrant for violation of probation. Florida puts out a notice on the NCIC that it will extradite the individual back to Florida if the individual is arrested on the fugitive warrant in another state. The individual is eventually arrested in another state on the fugitive warrant. While awaiting extradition, the individual will sit in jail.
  • An extradition lawyer can petition the court in Florida asking to temporarily withdraw the warrant so that the individual can be released from jail in the other state, and then voluntarily drive himself to Florida to surrender directly to the court to resolve the case.
  • In some of these cases, the judge may just decide to withdraw the warrant and terminate the probation so that the individual never has to return to Florida to answer the charges that he violated probation. This is the best outcome but it usually requires some extraordinary showing that the violation of probation warrant is extremely old, and that the individual has turned his life around and become a productive member of society without any new arrests. It also helps to make sure that all outstanding restitution, court costs and cost of supervision are paid in full.
  • Although difficult in most cases, an extradition lawyer in the area where the defendant is being held while awaiting extradition, can petition the court to allow the defendant to post bond on the fugitive warrant. (Usually it is more productive to hire an attorney in the area where the warrant was issued instead of an attorney in the area where the defendant is being held while awaiting extradition).
  • The benefit of avoiding extradition is that the individual can avoid being required to reimburse Florida for the cost of extradition, which typically costs more than $2,000.00 but can run much higher. The individual may be able to avoid posting bond or paying a premium to the bail bondsman. Of course, the individual can avoid sitting in jail while awaiting extradition, avoid the actual extradition bus ride to Florida, and avoid sitting in jail in Florida while waiting for his first court date.
  • Felony Warrant on Criminal Charges - An individual is accused of a crime because of some incident that occurred in the State of Florida. After the incident, the individual moves out of state. A judge in Florida issues a warrant for the individual's arrest. Notice of the warrant is sent to the NCIC and FCIC (national and Florida database of information on criminal records and outstanding warrants). The individual is picked up in another state and held on the fugitive warrant.
  • An attorney can petition the court in Florida to withdraw the fugitive warrant to avoid extradition.
  • An attorney can contact the prosecutor to begin working on defending the criminal case, including asking to have the charges dropped, or filing a motion to suppress or a motion to dismiss the criminal accusation. Additionally, the attorney can work with the prosecutor to stipulate to setting a reasonable bond if the court is unwilling to withdraw the warrant.
  • Although difficult in most cases, an attorney in the area where you are being held can petition the court to allow you to post bond on the fugitive warrant. This is usually the least desirable option because it is usually more efficient to hire an attorney in the area where the warrant was issued. In some cases, the client may want to hire an attorney in both jurisdictions if he intends to fight extradition.
  • The same benefits of avoiding extradition discussed above apply: avoiding any need to repay Florida the money it cost to extradite you, avoiding posting bond, avoiding sitting in jail for months while awaiting extradition, and avoiding sitting in jail in Florida on the criminal charges.

The Cost for Extradition to Florida

Extradition costs are imposed and enforced as costs of prosecution under sections 938.27 and 938.30. See Thompson v. State, 699 So.2d 329 (Fla. 2d DCA 1997) (holding that extradition costs are costs of prosecution).

Therefore, as a criminal sanction in a criminal case, violation of probation case or violation of community control case, the court can order that the defendant pay the costs of extradition as part of the criminal punishment imposed. Some courts will impose the extradition costs as a civil lien.

The Extradition Clause in the Florida Constitution

The Extradition Clause provides a procedure for the return of a person accused of a crime in one state who is present in another state. The original authority for interstate extradition is the United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, Clause 2 which provides as follows:

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

Illegal Abduction from Another Nation with an Extradition Treaty

In some cases, your attorney will fight the case on the basis that the defendant was illegally transported to the United States for trial. If the prosecutors in the jurisdiction where the case is pending violate the extradition treaty between another county and the United States, then the defense attorney might be able to file a motion to dismiss the case because of these violations.

The United States Supreme Court in United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 U.S. 655, 657 (1992), however, held that “a criminal defendant, abducted to the United States from a nation with which it has an extradition treaty, [does not] thereby acquire[ ] a defense to the jurisdiction of this country's courts.”

The power of a court to try a person for crime is not necessarily impaired by the fact that the defendant has been brought within the court's jurisdiction by reason of a “forcible abduction.” . . . They rest on the sound basis that due process of law is satisfied when one present in court is convicted of the crime after having been fairly apprised of the charges against him and after a fair trial in accordance with constitutional procedural safeguards. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires a court to permit a guilty person rightfully convicted to escape justice because he was brought to trial against his will. Serrano v. State, 64 So. 3d 93, 107-08 (Fla. 2011).

The Uniform Criminal Extradition Act

Congress implemented this provision through 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3182 (1985), which provides for interstate cooperation in the apprehension and delivery of fugitives on demand from the executive authority of the requesting state, district, or territory from which the person fled. Every state in the United States has adopted provisions of the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA).

The UCEA provides for a more uniform process for one state to demand the surrender of a person in another state who is accused of a crime. Each state has slightly different requirements under the UCEA, however, the extradition act generally provides the following requirements:

  1. The demanding state must issue a valid arrest warrant;
  2. The Governor or other executive authority of the demanding state must make a written request;
  3. The person awaiting extradition is entitled to a hearing and representation by an attorney;
  4. Extradition may be waived by the person accused;
  5. If extradition is not waived, then the court must make certain findings on the request for extradition to ensure compliance with all legal requirements;
  6. The demanding state must take custody and transport the person accused within 30 days.

For more information about the extradition laws of Florida, or to obtain an attorney to represent an individual awaiting extradition from another state, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm to discuss the case at 813-250-0500.

Statement of Your Rights at the First Court Appearance for Extradition to Florida

If you are being detained for extradition to another state, you have certain rights that can be exercised at your first court appearance. In cases where you are being held for extradition back to Florida, the State of Florida will allege typically that you have done one of the following:

  1. been charged with a crime and not appeared in court;
  2. broken the terms of bond or bail; or
  3. been convicted of a crime and violated conditions of release, the sentence, probation or parole; or escaped from custody.

If you are being detained in another State because the State of Florida seeks your return, then Florida will advise the authorities in the other state that they have or intend to start extradition proceedings for your return to Florida.

At the first court appearance, you must decide whether to challenge the legality of your arrest or fight the extradition (return) to the State of Florida. You will also be asked to acknowledge that you have received a copy of any complaint or extradition papers that have been issued, and I have been given a Waiver of Extradition form.

You should understand that you have certain rights, including: 

  1. You have the right to be represented by an attorney.
  2. An attorney will be appointed to represent you if you cannot afford to pay for an attorney.
  3. You do not have to say anything about the facts or circumstances of the case.
  4. Anything you do say can be used against you.
  5. You have the right to challenge the legality of your arrest and to apply for a Writ of Habeas Corpus.
  6. You have the right to fight your extradition (return) to the State of Florida.
  7. You have the right to speak to an attorney before deciding whether to challenge your arrest or to fight extradition.
  8. You have a right to have bail set.

You should also understand that if you waive extradition, you may be held in custody until authorities from the State of Florida come to get you. 

If you fight extradition, you may be held in custody for up to 30 days (or possibly as long as 60 days) to permit the State of Florida to begin extradition proceedings against you. 

With those rights in mind, you may request a court-appointed attorney, request a continuance to consult a private attorney, or waive (give up) your right to have an attorney.

You may challenge the legality of my arrest, waive (give up) the right to challenge the legality of the arrest, fight the extradition (return) to the State of Florida, or waive (give up) the right to fight the extradition (return) to the State of Florida.

Private Prisoner Transport Companies for Extradition to Florida

For inmates being transported to Florida, the private prisoner transport company must comply with the Department of Justice Policies for Interstate Transportation of Dangerous Criminals (also known as “Jeanna’s Act”). Title 28 for Judicial Administration, PART 97— Standards for Private Entities Providing Prisoner or Detainee Service.

The DOJ Policies provide minimum security and safety standards for private companies that transport violent prisoners on behalf of State and local jurisdictions. Jeanna’s Act sets standards minimum standards for:

  • employee uniform and identification;
  • standards to ensure the safety of violent prisoners during transport;
  • guard to prisoner ratio;
  • maximum driving time;
  • notification of local law enforcement before scheduled stops;
  • clothing requirements for transported violent prisoners;
  • immediate notification of local law enforcement in the event of an escape;
  • pre-employment screening; and
  • employee training.

Many of these companies provide inmate transfer services are seven (7) days a week—both by ground and air. For longer distances, it may be more efficient and cost-effective to transport a prisoner by air.

In those cases, the private prisoner transport company can partners with commercial airlines to safely and securely move a prisoner from one location to the next. Companies in Florida include US Prisoner Transport in Melbourne, Florida, and State Extraditions. Inc., in Longwood, FL.

Procedures for Out of State Felony Extradition Warrants

What is the process to detain someone in Hillsborough County with an out of state felony warrant?

After an arrest, the officer might be notified by the Communications Section of his agency that the person has an NCIC “hit.” The Communications Section will then send a teletype to the wanting agency to confirm that a warrant or capias is in existence and to determine if the agency will extradite the wanted person. 

If confirmation that a warrant or capias is in existence cannot be made, or confirmation that the agency will not extradite is made, the person will be released.

If the warrant or capias is confirmed, the arrest will be made. If the wanting agency does not respond to the teletype within a reasonable time, the officer may contact the agency by telephone.

If extradition cannot be confirmed and the warrant is valid, the arrest will be made. After the arrest on the out of state felony warrant, a Criminal Report Affidavit (CRA) will be completed listing the offense as “Fugitive” under Florida Statute Section 941.14 for an “arrest without a warrant.” 

The probable cause section of the CRA will include the charge along with the fact that the arrest was based upon a warrant or capias, the warrant or capias number, the name of the wanting agency, and the method of identification of the person.

The name of the person who confirmed the warrant, in addition to the telephone number of the agency and the time the confirmation was made, will also be documented in the probable cause section of the affidavit. All inquiries regarding the arrangement of extradition will be forwarded to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. When the officer decides to originate a separate offense report, it is entitled “Fugitive.

Extradition Information Center

Extradition on Fugitive Warrant to Brevard County, FL - Information from criminal defense attorneys from the Law Offices of Law Offices of Germain & McCarthy, LLC, in Melbourne, Florida, for extradition cases in Brevard County, Seminole County, Orange County, Volusia County, Indian River County, and Osceola County, Florida.

Extradition Laws in the United States - Includes information on interstate extradition, proposed extradition agreements, procedures, time limits, and extradition to foreign countries. Read more about the process for the extradition of witnesses.

Another Death on a For-Profit Extradition Vehicle to Florida - Read more about people who are injured, sexually assault or die while being transported on a fugitive warrant between states in a for-profit extradition vehicle. Learn more about prisoner transportation services and trips to Florida with inmates during the extradition process.

Finding an Extradition Attorney in Hillsborough County, FL

If you or a loved one are awaiting extradition back to Hillsborough County, FL, or the surrounding counties in the greater Tampa Bay area then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm.

Our attorneys also clients exercise their rights to their voluntary extradition under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers Act. We represent clients on felony warrants in Florida.

We work hard to fight the underlying charges so that our clients can be released from custody as quickly as possible. Contact us to discuss your case with an experienced attorney who can help you understand all options that might be available to fight the case.

Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated by on Monday, July 2, 2018.