What are Arizona’s Extradition Laws?


Extradition cases are serious matters. Regardless of whether the underlying charge is a misdemeanor or felony, you may be immediately incarcerated upon detainment — even if you’re innocent of the charges. The end goal is to ensure you are held and transported to the proper jurisdiction for a court appearance, but it often feels like you’ve already been convicted and sentenced.

It’s possible to fight extradition with the assistance of an experienced attorney. If extradition is unavoidable, a good attorney can at least ensure your rights are respected and you’re treated fairly throughout the extradition process.

That said, it’s always best to fight the prospect of extradition before you’re detained in the first place. If you are an Arizona resident with an outstanding warrant for your arrest in another state or country, the best course of action is to have an attorney quash the warrant and arrange for your voluntary surrender in front of a judge. The judge may or may not be willing to drop the underlying charges, but at the very least your voluntary surrender will positively impact the case and avoid extradition.

What is Extradition?

Extradition is the formal process of delivering a detained individual from the arresting jurisdiction to the requesting jurisdiction. Generally speaking, there are three types of extradition cases:

  • International extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in another country (e.g. you are extradited from the USA to Germany).
  • Interstate extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in another state within the USA (e.g. you are extradited from Arizona to Utah).
  • Intrastate extradition: the requesting jurisdiction is located in the same state, but in a separate county (e.g. you are extradited from Maricopa County to Pima County).

International extradition cases are distinctly different than interstate extradition cases. Where most states freely extradite detainees under the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act, international extradition cases are subject to complex international laws. International treaties, policies, and procedures must be evaluated and respected. Cases involving individuals seeking asylum are even more complicated.

Interstate extradition cases are also slightly different than intrastate extradition cases, as interstate extradition requests may need to proceed through the governor’s office via a governor’s warrant. In intrastate extradition cases, it’s often as simple as the other county arranging for transport.

What is the Most Common Reason for Extradition?

In most cases, the underlying cause for extradition is an outstanding arrest warrant or bench warrant. Criminal arrest warrants pertain to criminal charges, meaning there is an open and active criminal case against you. Bench warrants are issued by a judge when an individual fails to appear in court as required. That includes anything from a defendant in a criminal case who posts bail and fails to appear at trial, to a parent who skips a mandatory child support hearing. You can even receive a bench warrant for failing to appear in traffic court.

In rare cases, a detainee may be extradited to serve out a prison or jail sentence. This occurs when an individual escapes custody or fails to report for their incarceration after being convicted.

It goes without saying that it’s much easier to fight extradition when the underlying cause is a warrant versus a court-imposed sentencing. Furthermore, it’s easier to fight extradition when the warrant is a bench warrant versus a criminal arrest warrant.

Does Arizona Extradite?

Extradition is covered by the US Constitution, federal statutory provisions, and the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act. The latter is intended to supplement federal law, providing guidelines and procedures for states to follow in order to unify extradition programs between the states. 

The state of Arizona formally adopted the Uniform Criminal Extradition Act under Arizona Revised Statutes Title 13, Chapter 38, Article 5. The law states “it is the duty of the governor of [Arizona] to have arrested and delivered up to the executive authority of any other state of the United States and person charged in that state with treason, felony, or other crime, who has fled from justice and is found in this state” (ARS 13-3842).

How to Handle Interstate Extradition Requests

The first step in challenging an extradition request is to require the requesting jurisdiction to submit a governor’s warrant. The governor of the requesting state will need to review the prosecutor’s papers, approve the request, and send the governor’s warrant with supporting paperwork to the Arizona governor. At that point the Arizona governor will review the governor’s warrant, and either deny the request or issue a warrant of extradition back to the requesting state.

Upon receiving an approved warrant of extradition, you may challenge the warrant with an extradition hearing. Following are a few examples of legal challenges that you may raise in an extradition hearing with the help of your attorney:

Challenging the Identity

Sometimes an arrest warrant is issued based on a false identity. Whether it’s an acquaintance who used your name in a pinch or a case of identity theft, the point is that the warrant of extradition is for the wrong person. There are several ways to successfully challenge the identity, though a simple fingerprint analysis is often the most effective.

A Writ of Habeas Corpus

simply put, this is a motion to ensure that your imprisonment or detention is not illegal. The motion may test the legality of your arrest, contest the regularity of the extradition process, argue that the bail amount is unfair, or contest the requesting party’s jurisdiction.

Note, however, that challenging extradition may not always be the wisest move. If your extradition is inevitable, your attorney may be able to negotiate for your temporary release on the condition that you will voluntarily surrender to authorities in the requesting jurisdiction. When such a request is approved, you’ll generally have up to two weeks to get your affairs in order and travel to the requesting jurisdiction before surrendering to the authorities there.

Receive Help With an Extradition Request in Arizona

Whether you want to challenge an extradition request or surrender to a request voluntarily, if you are facing criminal charges with an extradition request in Arizona, JacksonWhite can help you. Our criminal defense team will fight for your future. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help reduce or dismiss your charges, limit your penalties and protect your rights.


Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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