Although not a hot topic like international extradition for quasi-celebrities and political activists, every criminal practitioner must understand the complexities of North Carolina’s ability to recover fugitives and hold individuals wanted in in other jurisdictions. This process is called extradition.
Fugitive’s may be arrested if they were charged in another state and fled to North Carolina, convicted of a crime in another state and escaped to our State, or violated probation or parole conditions and fled, escaped or avoided those conditions by coming to North Carolina. An arrest is typically made with a warrant; however, a law enforcement officer may arrest without a warrant if there is reasonable information to believe that the accused is charged by another state with a capital crime or a crime potentially punishable by more than one year (a standard definition for a felony offense).
Fugitive warrants are not governed by probable cause, but rather the warrant or notice that the fugitive is wanted is communicated by a DCI-PIN message (an interstate computer network). After arrest, the normal procedures and conditions of pretrial release apply. If the fugitive is arrested on a Governor’s Warrant, no bond is authorized.
An appearance is set before a district court judge, who will inform the defendant of their rights, including setting a hearing for extradition or accepting a defendant’s waiver of extradition. An extradition hearing focuses solely on the issue of whether or not proper conditions exist confirming the existence of the fugitive warrant or demand, and the identity of the person arrested. If the defendant waives extradition, the demanding state has 10 days to make arrangements to pick the fugitive up, and up to 30 days to actually do so.
The local district attorney’s office will begin procedures to obtain a Governor’s Warrant from the demanding state if the defendant does not either waive extradition or return to the other state on their own (if out on bail). A Governor’s Warrant is a formal request from the demanding state asking the North Carolina governor to issue a warrant authorizing the fugitive to be held until being picked up by officials from the demanding state. The process of requesting a Governor’s Warrant is called a requisition. The fugitive may be held for 90 days while awaiting a Governor’s Warrant (30 days plus a 60 day potential extension). Even if released because of failure to timely obtain the warrant, i.e., the warrant arrives on day 93, the individual may be re-arrested. The defendant, if he or she does not waive extradition, may also apply for a writ of habeas corpus.
Every state has their own sentencing and extradition rules regarding misdemeanors, but as a general rule no state extradites for misdemeanors.
The process is the same, but of course reversed, if a North Carolina fugitive is found in another state.