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Extradition is the removal of a person (typically referred to as a fugitive) from a requested jurisdiction to another jurisdiction for criminal prosecution or punishment. Some relevant case law for extradition can be found in e.g. United States v. Alvarez-Machain, 504 US 655 (1992), and In the matter of Morris Strauss, 197 US 324 (1905).

Extradition procedures are normally determined by reciprocal agreements between countries or by multilateral agreements between a group of countries. The European Union, for example, shares a system of extradition laws. In most jurisdictions, extradition will be granted only if the alleged crime is also against the law in the requested country. Most countries also have a "political-offense exception," meaning that purely political crimes--such as vote tampering or defaming a politician--will not be extraditable. Some countries also have a double-jeopardy exception, refusing to grant extradition when the individual has already been tried for the crime at issue.

Extradition Under American Law

The Constitutional basis for state-to-state extradition is found in the Extradition Clause, Article IV section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The statute implementing extradition is Title 18, Sect. 3182 of the US Code. Further extradition guidelines are to be found in the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, adopted in many states.

Not surprisingly, extradition is an important and sensitive issue between sovereigns. It can be particularly controversial when the accused is removed to a jurisdiction where penalties are greater.

[Last updated in November of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]