Extradition is the procedure by which a state or nation, upon receipt of a formal request by another state or nation, turns over to that second jurisdiction an individual charged with or convicted of a crime in that jurisdiction.
Thus, extradition is aimed at achieving the return of the accused or convicted individual to the state that seeks him.
In Spain, extradition is regulated mainly by the Passive Extradition Act (Ley de Extradición Pasiva 4/1985), the Criminal Procedure Act and by applicable international treaties.
Yes it is. Therefore, it is worth treating the matter seriously.
Extradition is an issue of a great legal complexity. Although strictly speaking, extradition is not a criminal procedure, vital issues for the sought person such as his freedom or imprisonment, or his submission to justice and prison systems which are often more severe than the Spanish, are at stake. Moreover, there is an added difficulty in the procedure taking place in a country and in a language that the person involved does not necessarily know.
In practice, most extradition requests are granted. Extradition will only be refused in case we are able to demonstrate that any of the circumstances referred to in point 7 exist. Therefore, the capacity and effectiveness of the lawyers representing the sought person are key success factors.
Thus, it is highly recommended to count on experienced, reliable lawyers.
In Spain, a passive extradition procedure starts when a foreign state requests the Spanish authorities to deliver an individual they are seeking for, who finds itself in Spanish territory.
In practice, a high percentage of extradition cases find their origin in international arrest warrants that have been previously issued by the requesting state through institutions such as INTERPOL. From the moment an international arrest warrant is issued by a certain country, the affected individual is sought also in the rest of the countries belonging to the concerned institution.
Thus, if a fugitive from another country comes to Spain, and someone checks his identity, he will probably be arrested by the Spanish police on the basis of the international arrest warrant. After that, the Spanish authorities will inform the requesting country that the person they seek has been captured. From that moment, and within forty days, the State that issued the international arrest warrant should formally request the Spanish authorities to extradite the person. Said request should contain a number of documents stating the purpose of the request.
If the State fails to submit a formal request within forty days from the arrest, the person will be released. If the request is duely submitted, the procedure continues.
An extradition procedure is only implemented if the case displays a certain magnitude. Therefore:
Anytime after the person sought is arrested, the judge may order his release (imposing or not a bail or any other precautionary measure, such as the obligation to report periodically to the court). The judge may also order that the individual remain in remand. This often depends on the severity of the case.
Meanwhile, the extradition procedure is developed in three phases:
The duration of the extradition procedure in Spain depends on the complexity of the case and how busy the Courts involved are.
However, it is possible to estimate a lapse of 5 to 9 months from the moment the sought individual is arrested until the final decision of the authorities is firm.
The Spanish Passive Extradition Act pinpoints a number of cases in which extradition will be refused. Namely, extradition shall not be granted if it is to pursue one the following offenses:
Furthermore, no extradition shall be granted:
Subsequently, the lawyer taking charge of the defence should mainly focus on proving the occurrence of any of these circumstances.
If different countries request the extradition of the same person, either for the same offense or for different ones, the Government of Spain will decide which country is extradition to be granted to. To do so, it will take into account different circumstances: whether or not there is an extradition treaty with any requesting country, the severity of the crime, where was it committed, which of the countries requested the extradition first, the nationality of the person sought and the possibility of subsequent extraditions.