Extradition, Fugitive From Justice: Maine’s Process, Your Options

Maine Sheriff Van use for extradition

Extradition can mean a long ride in one of these

Extradition is not a criminal charge, it’s the way that a court in one state can hold a person as they await transportation to another place where they face criminal prosecution. Extradition proceedings put the defendant in a very difficult position: while the Maine Court has the authority to hold them in jail, it does not have jurisdiction over the charges that got the person in trouble. Still, the detained person has rights and Maine’s law requires that the state demanding extradition prove that extradition is appropriate.

The article discusses the following topics. You can use these links to skip to a section:

  1. “Fugitive from Justice” Definition
  2. Form of the Extradition Demand
  3. Maine’s Extradition Procedure
  4. Options for People Facing Extradition

Fugitive From Justice Definition

Maine’s extradition statutes are found in Chapter 9 of Title 15. Extradition always involves two governments, a “demanding state” where criminal charges are pending against a person, and the State of Maine where the defendant is currently located. Maine’s process begins when the District Attorney files a complaint alleging that the person is a “Fugitive from Justice.”

A Fugitive from Justice is defined by Title 15 §201(4) as:

  1. A Person Accused of a Crime in the demanding state who is not in that state, unless lawfully absent pursuant to the terms of bail or other release. or
  2. A Person Convicted of a Crime in the demanding state who is not in that state, unless lawfully absent pursuant to the terms of bail or other release, who has not served or completed a sentence imposed pursuant to the conviction.

The definition does not require that the person intentionally flees the demanding state or runs from the charges. All it means is that the person has pending charges in another State and is absent without court approval. Many “fugitives” don’t know they have charges pending in the demanding state until they are arrested in Maine.

The Extradition Demand

The vast majority of fugitives facing extradition have not been convicted but stand accused of a crime in another jurisdiction. In these cases the demanding state must provide written documentation alleging that the person requested is a fugitive from justice as defined above. The request must also include certain documentation showing that there is sufficient evidence to charge the person with a crime in the demanding state.

Title 15 §203(1) Request for Extradition of Accused Person Must Include:

  1. A copy of an indictment returned; or
  2. An information issued upon a waiver of indictment; or
  3. An information or other formal charging instrument
    1. issued upon a determination of probable cause by a judicial officer in the demanding state or
    2. accompanied by an arrest warrant issued upon a determination of probable cause by a judicial officer in the demanding state; or
  4. Any other formal charging instrument,
    1. together with any affidavits in support thereof, or in support of an arrest warrant, which support a finding of probable cause; or
    2. an affidavit which supports a finding of probable cause.

The indictment, information, other formal charging instrument or affidavit shall substantially charge the person demanded with having committed a crime under the law of that state, and the copy shall be authenticated by the executive authority making the demand.

Maine’s Extradition Procedure

A person arrested on a fugitive from justice warrant must be given an opportunity to appear before a Maine court. Here, they will be informed of the demand and asked if they contest extradition or waive their their right to contest the process. This is an extremely important decision and an attorney can help the person understand the process and their rights.

Process for those waiving or contesting extradition in Maine Courts

  1. If the person waives their right to contest extradition 15 §226 provides that they must be held without bail to await collection by the demanding state.
  2. If the person chooses to contest extradition, they must file a petition contesting extradition within 7 days. 15 §210
  3. That hearing must be held within 30 days of arrest unless the person has been granted bail. 15 §215
  4. Under 15 §210-A, the court will consider:
    1. Whether the fugitive warrant and demand for extradition comply with the law.
    2. Whether the person detained is the same person charged with a crime in the demanding state.
    3. Whether there is probable cause to believe that the fugitive committed a crime in the demanding state.
    4. Whether the person is a “fugitive from justice” as defined by 15 §201(4).
  5. If the hearing Judge is satisfied as to these issues, the person can be ordered held in jail:
    1. For up to 60 days awaiting collection by the demanding state’s police. 15 §215
    2. If they have not been collected within that time, they can be detained for an additional 60 days after which point they must be released and the fugitive complaint dismissed. 15 §217.
  6. The Judge, under 15 §216 has discretion to set Bail for those contesting extradition except for:
    1. Fugitives accused of capital crimes or crimes where a life sentence is possible.
    2. Fugitives charged with escape, perviously convicted of escape, or who are in Maine having escaped confinement or jumped bail in the demanding state.

Many choose to not to contest, or to “waive extradition” because the time they are detained in Maine can then be counted toward any sentence they might owe in the demanding state. The demanding state will be notified of the waiver and must come collect the person. The court will set a date, usually 30 days out, to check the status of the case with hopes that the fugitive will be returned to the demanding state prior to that date. If that state is nearby, the fugitive may only wait a few days for transportation. If the demanding state is across the county, the person may wait months to then take a weeks-long van ride traversing dozens of states to collect other prisoner on the way. People who contest extradition will not get credit for time detained awaiting a Maine extradition hearing.

Options for People Facing Criminal Extradition

It is possible to get bailed out pending an extradition hearing. This is especially true if there are problems with the forms, questions about the the strength of the charges in the demanding state, or other exceptional facts about the charges or the person detained. In practice, the extradition attorney must contest extradition and then present a bail argument. Often the person can post bail and return to the demanding state to face the charges.

Sometimes the only option is to fight the extradition demand and there are often issues worth contesting. The demanding state’s request often fails to to meet Maine’s statutory requirements; many states simply fax a copy of the arrest warrant and ask that the defendant be returned. Demanding states often supply very little documentation of the evidence against the defendant. Many states use form complaints and affidavits which state the crime and the facts in the most generic possible terms. Maine judges do not appreciate this and will require documentation of specific allegations before holding a defendant for extradition.

Sometimes, the best thing a Maine Extradition Attorney can do is to reach a resolution of the fugitive complaint and the demanding state’s case before it snowballs out of control. Where the demanding state is pursuing relatively minor charges, or when the charges are very old, it is sometimes possible for the Maine attorney to negotiate with authorities in the other state who might agree to dismiss the charges or withdraw the extradition request. Each case is unique and having an attorney who understands the law and procedure is a person’s best chance to avoid a lengthy jail stay awaiting extradition.

Extradition, Fugitive From Justice: Maine's Process, Your Options by
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