By Dallas and Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Here’s the situation. Your loved one is in Texas for whatever reason — business, vacation, or maybe they even moved here. Now they’ve been arrested on a warrant from their home state. What happens now?
This is an extradition question. Extradition is a person’s right to compel a foreign jurisdiction to prove they have the legal right to take someone into custody.
Extradition is controlled in Texas by Code of Criminal Procedure 51.13, otherwise known as the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act (“UCEA”). Forty-five other states participate with the UCEA which provides for standardized rules in each state.
If a person waives formal extradition, then the state seeking to extradite has a finite time period to pick-up the arrested person. This time period can be anywhere from ten days to three weeks. If the state doesn’t come and get them, then they are released — however the warrant is still unresolved meaning the person can simply be re-arrested at any time or any place.
If the arrested person insists on formal extradition, then the state seeking to extradite has 30 days to produce what is known as a Governor’s Warrant. A Governor’s Warrant is a formal and detailed statement from the other state produced to the Texas Court. If the Governor’s Warrant complies with Code of Criminal Procedure 51.13, then the person is transferred out of Texas and to the other State. A Court can extend the time for the foreign state to produce the Governor’s Warrant an additional 60 days. If no Governor’s Warrant is ever produced, then the foreign state cannot take custody of the accused.
A person arrested for a warrant from another State is entitled to a bond while the extradition process is ongoing. This is a crucial point that cannot be over-looked. In other words, the person can be released by a Texas court pending the foreign state’s attempt to get a Governor’s Warrant.
There are many reasons why formal extradition should not be waived. Depending on the nature of the charges being faced outside Texas, it may allow an individual and his attorney valuable time to prepare a defense and it can throw an additional hurdle for prosecutors in the other State which they may not over-come. Indeed, if they cannot produce the Governor’s Warrant in the proper time-frame, then the arrested person is simply released without prosecution (for the time being at-least). Ideally in these situations, the person should attain local counsel in Texas as well as counsel in the state seeking to extradite.
*Jeremy F. Rosenthal is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice about any specific situation should consult an attorney directly.