The Law Dictionary

Your Free Online Legal Dictionary • Featuring Black’s Law Dictionary, 2nd Ed.

Jail Time Awaiting Extradition on Old Out-of-State Felony Warrant

A person who has an outstanding arrest warrant for an out-of-state felony is found out, arrested and jailed while awaiting extradition.  The question that comes to roost is how long the resident state can hold the accused while the felony state gets around to extraditing.

Most experts agree that the typically amount of time one state gives another for extradition is about one month, 30 days.  This waiting time of one month includes the notification to the felony state that the resident state has the accused in jail, through to the point where the felony state comes and picks up the accused to stand trial, or to decide that the felony state does not want to prosecute, regardless of the reason.  There is always the situation where the felony state might request an extended time allowance to get its preparation and or decisions completed.  The resident state might not feel like extending the time for whatever reason.  The US Supreme Court has upheld a state’s right to refuse extradition.  Only Missouri and South Carolina do not participate in the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (UCEA).  The UCEA provides the right of the state, even a citizen, to arrest fugitives in the resident state accused of a crime in the felony state if the penalty for that felony in the felony state is at least one year in jail.  While Missouri and South Carolina have not accepted the UCEA, it does not prevent those states from having their own extradition laws and using them to the fullest.

Just an odd thought … There is no evidence any the resident state would consider having the accused stand trial in the resident state for the felony done in another state.  From experienced individuals to experts in this area, if a felony state either decides to not extradite or fails to decide in the allotted 30 days, the resident state will simply allow the accused to go free.  There are instances, however, where one state feels that the accused could not get a fair trial because of media coverage corruption of the available jury pool, and moving to another state to gain an unbiased (at least a less biased) jury for the trial.  The defense attorney cannot simply make the state move the trial elsewhere.  Motions and hearings for this “change in venue” would need to be filed and processed before such an event would be approved.  The logistics for such a happening must be somewhat chaotic.  Apparently this type of change would only have legal basis if the case is a federal case rather than a state felony.  State sovereignty over its laws, procedures, magistrates, judges, and courts makes the state to state change in venue improbable.   But what if one state brought its own judges to the other state …?   Not allowed, again due to the sovereignty of each state.

Unfortunately, many people who experienced this situation simply waited out the extradition, knowing that most states and out-of-state jurisdictions are so overworked that the states and jurisdictions prioritize the crimes they want to take to trial and simply leave the rest untried.  It is a sorry state of affairs.


This article contains general legal information but does not constitute professional legal advice for your particular situation. The Law Dictionary is not a law firm, and this page does not create an attorney-client or legal adviser relationship. If you have specific questions, please consult a qualified attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

Recent Criminal Law Articles