Extradition – An Introduction
Extradition is the process where one country asks another to return a person to stand trial or to serve a sentence. The UK has extradition relations with over 100 territories around the world.
What Is the Process?
The requesting State contacts the UK authorities and makes an extradition request. This may result in a warrant being issued against you, and court proceedings commenced. It might be the case that you fear an extradition request will be made in the future. If you are worried about this contact us now. We can then advise on the options available to you.
A District Judge, a professional magistrate, will usually hear your case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. At the hearing the court will decide whether you can be extradited. In some cases, the final decision will rest with the Home Secretary. The exact process will depend on which country is requesting your return. It varies between countries.
Do I Need an Extradition Solicitor?
The simple answer is YES. Extradition Law is very complex. You should not try and deal with extradition alone. If you have been arrested unexpectedly a duty solicitor will be available at Court. However even at this late stage, you can demand that an extradition solicitor is contacted to help you. The earlier we are instructed the more we can do. In some more complex cases, we will use barristers who specialise in extradition law. We can advioe you how to cahllenge the extradition request.
Rules that may stop your extradition:
- You should not face prosecution for the same offence twice – this is called double jeopardy. So, if you have been in court for the offence either here or abroad you should not be extradited. It doesn’t matter what happened as long as the case concluded for example by a not guilty verdict, guilty plea, or a conviction.
- You cannot be extradited “on spec” the prosecution must have gone a long way down the road towards charge.
- Other considerations such as whether the request for extradition is a sham. Its real purpose being for some other reason, such as to get you to pay a debt.
- The length of time since the offence
- Your age
- Extradition is only available if you will be dealt with in the state making the request and only for the offences for which extradition is asked.
- You cannot be subject to onward extradition. For example where you have previously been extradited to the UK from a third county. Consent for onward extradition from that country may be required.
- Place of prosecution or “forum”. That is whether it would be more appropriate for you to be prosecuted in the UK instead.
- The judge must also decide if extradition would be disproportionate. For example, would it be against your human rights? Rights such as a family life. This would be particularly so if you have been settled in this Country for a long time.
It is vital that all available evidence is presented during the hearing, and this may involve testimony from experts both in this Country and from abroad. In a significant number of cases you can appeal to the High Court, and the Supreme Court.
Is Legal Aid Available?
Legal aid may be available depending on your financial circumstances. If you are not eligible for legal aid, then we will be able to offer a privately funded package.
Leave Nothing to Chance
The prospect of being returned to another Country to face legal proceedings is daunting. You must get legal assistance at an early stage. Please contact Jamie Ritchie or Keith Hollywood on 020 8986 8336