Imagine sitting in a foreign jail while U.S. officials seek to extradite you to the United States to face criminal charges. In such a scenario, many thoughts are probably running through your head: Do I fight extradition? Or should I waive it? And who should I hire to help me, a criminal defense attorney from the U.S. or legal counsel from the country in which I was arrested, or both?
Initially, you may think it is a good idea to only hire legal counsel (extradition specialists) located in the arresting country. After all, they are closer and easier to meet on short notice.
However, while you may be tempted to solely hire local legal counsel, there are several reasons why also retaining a U.S. attorney may be in your best interest:
- You need someone who understands the U.S. Justice System: Extradition specialists in foreign countries don’t always understand the American criminal justice system, and therefore they may offer advice that can jeopardize your case in the U.S. In addition, they may have a financial incentive for prolonging a losing extradition fight.
- You need to develop a legal strategy immediately: The decisions you make early in the process can significantly impact your case in the United States, which is why you need to develop an effective, long-term legal strategy as soon as possible. By hiring an experienced attorney from the U.S., you can begin to develop litigation and negotiation strategies before you even arrive in the United States. In addition, a U.S. lawyer can start investigating your case right away, and can properly advise you regarding the pros and cons of fighting or waiving international extradition.
- You need someone who sees the “whole picture”: While extradition specialists in foreign countries may be able to answer questions regarding the extradition process itself, they are often of little help in explaining the implications of your decisions on your case in the U.S., particularly if you choose to fight extradition. You need an attorney who sees every angle of both the extradition process and the case in the United States, as well as the impact each can have on the other.
Even if you have already hired an extradition specialist from the country in which you were arrested, it is not too late to also hire a U.S. criminal defense lawyer to collaborate with this person and to determine whether fighting or waiving extradition is the best course of action.
Many experienced American criminal defense lawyers are willing to travel to the country where you are detained to advise you on the best course of action. Miedel & Mysliwiec LLP attorneys have consulted with clients detained pending extradition to the U.S. in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Israel, and the Republic of Georgia. The expense is not always significant and early consultation is usually money well spent.