Extradition refers to the process under which a suspect is arrested in one country and sought for transfer to another country, either for prosecution or to serve a sentence imposed there. While Canadian extradition law no longer uses the term “fugitive”, that word still describes how the suspect is seen. The procedures governing extradition are opaque, even for many criminal lawyers, and in Vancouver there are only a handful of counsel who are well-versed in this area of law.
Extradition proceedings look like domestic criminal cases, but in many ways the resemblances are only superficial. Different rules apply throughout the system – from the question of release on bail to the standard of proof required to send the person abroad for prosecution.
There are two components to an extradition case: the extradition hearing (in which a Supreme Court judge decides whether to “commit” the person for extradition), and the surrender decision (in which the federal justice minister considers different issues). There are appeals that may be taken from either or both of the committal and surrender decisions. The rules of evidence are complicated and operate quite differently than in an ordinary criminal trial.
Martland & Saulnier has a wealth of experience in extradition cases. We have helped people who are the subject of charges or investigation in the United States (including California, Georgia, Texas, Illinois), as well as in Hong Kong, Australia, the Philippines, and the Czech Republic. We often engage with top local counsel in the foreign country to develop an overall strategy to best protect the client’s position.