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Uniform Criminal Extradition Act

The United States Constitution, Article IV, Section 2, is the source of all extradition law.  This provides that 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 the 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[i].

This constitutional provision is implemented by 18 U.S.C.A. § 3182, which provides that: Whenever the executive authority of any State or Territory demands any person as a fugitive from justice, of the executive authority of any State, District, or Territory to which such person has fled, and produces a copy of an indictment found or an affidavit made before a magistrate [United States magistrate judge] of any State or Territory, charging the person demanded with having committed treason, felony, or other crime, certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate [United States magistrate judge] of the State or Territory from whence the person so charged has fled, the executive authority of the State, District, or Territory to which such person has fled shall cause him to be arrested and secured, and notify the executive authority making such demand, or the agent of such authority appointed to receive the fugitive, and shall cause the fugitive to be delivered to such agent when he shall appear.  If no such agent appears within thirty days from the time of the arrest, the prisoner can be discharged[ii].

Since neither the Extradition Clause nor 18 U.S.C.A. § 3182 establish the details of the extradition procedure, most states have adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA), which sets up procedural safeguards for the benefit of the accused[iii].

The UCEA deals with the recovery of fugitives across state boundaries and provides for the return of fugitives, who have done a criminal act in a state, from their current state to the state where the offense was committed.

The UCEA authorizes a private person to arrest a fugitive accused of a crime in another state for which the punishment is at least one year of confinement.  However, for this purpose, the accused should be presented before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, whereupon he will be confined to allow for formal extradition process from the requesting state.  All states except Missouri, South Carolina, and two territories have adopted the UCEA.  The UCEA applies to bail fugitives as well.

The UCEA is ancillary to federal constitutional requirements which govern extradition.  It was enacted for the purpose of implementing the constitutional requirements of the Extradition Clause and to set forth extradition procedures.  Section 11 of the UCEA provides for criminal sanctions for delivery of a person to the demanding state in violation of the Act[iv].

Whatever the scope of discretion vested in the governor of an asylum state, the courts of an asylum state are bound by Article IV, Section 2 of the Constitution, by 18 U.S.C.S. § 3182, and by the UCEA.  Once the Governor has granted extradition, a court considering release on habeas corpus can do no more than decide (a) whether the extradition documents on their face are in order; (b) whether the petitioner has been charged with a crime in the demanding state; (c) whether the petitioner is the person named in the request for extradition; and (d) whether the petitioner is a fugitive[v].

The UCEA is to be interpreted and construed in a way that will effectuate its purpose to make consistent the laws of the states enacting it. The UCEA should be widely construed since the intent of the statute implementing the UCEA is to facilitate extradition.  However, the UCEA does not regulate rendition procedures between states and federal authorities.

[i] USCS Const. Art. IV, § 2, Cl 2.

[ii] 18 U.S.C.A. § 3182.

[iii] Raffone v. Sullivan, 436 F. Supp. 939 (D. Conn. 1977).

[iv] Id.

[v] N.M. ex rel. Ortiz v. Reed, 524 U.S. 151, 152 (U.S. 1998).

Inside Uniform Criminal Extradition Act