Maine’s Process For Extradition for Fugitives From Justice

Maine law contains detailed procedures for the extradition of a person in Maine accused of a crime in another state or who has been convicted of a crime in another state. While the term ‘fugitive from justice’ may conjure up images of Harrison Ford desperately fleeing from the police, it applies to people who may be unaware that another state has charged them with a crime. All that is necessary is that the individual was in that state at the time the crime was committed and left thereafter or that the individual was convicted of a crime in another state and  is now in Maine or another state.  There is an exception for individuals who are released on bail with permission to leave the state where their charges are pending.

The Procedures For Extradition in Maine

The definition of a fugitive from justice and the procedures to extradite such individuals are set forth in Title 15, Chapter 9 of the Maine Revised Statutes. If you are merely accused of the crime, the process is as follows:

1. The ‘demanding state’ (the state where the crime was allegedly committed) must submit to a written allegation to the governor of Maine that the individual it seeks was in the demanding state at the time of the commission of the alleged crime and that he or she left thereafter.

2. The demanding state must also provide Maine with a copy of a formal charging document which may be an indictment, an information or an arrest warrant that issued upon a finding of probable cause by a judicial officer in the demanding state.  This copy must be be authenticated by the executive authority  making the demand.

3. The documents must in some instances include an affidavit that suppports the finding of probable cause that the individual sought committed the charged crime.

The process is slightly different for those convicted of a crime in the demanding state and now in Maine:

1. The demanding state must submit a written statement that the individual it seeks to extradite is a fugitive from justice along with a copy of a judgment of conviction which has been authenticated by the executive authority seeking extradition.

The statute further provides that a mistake in the written submission from the demanding state is not a defense against extradition so long as the error is fixed even during the hearing on extradition in Maine.  In fact mere administrative errors in the paperwork are deemed harmless unless the individual subject to extradition can show substantial prejudice.

Once Maine recives the written demand as described above, the indiviual who is subject to the demand must be brought before a court to contest extradition or waive the right to do so. If the person waives extradition or contests it and loses, the court must ordinarily hold he or she without bail until the demanding  state sends a law enforcement officer to pick them up.   The procedures for such a hearing are contained in Title 15, section 210-A.  The issues to be resolved at the hearing are:

  • The person before the court is in fact the person sought by the demanding state;and
  • The written statements from the demanding state satisfy Maine law.

A judge can decide to set bail if he or she decides that you should be extradited unless you are accused of a capital crime or you are accused escaping from justice. See, Title 15, section 216.

Should the judge decide that extradition is warranted,  Maine may hold the individual in jail for 60 days while waiting for the demanding state to extradite the individual. Under certain circumstances Maine may continue to hold that person for an additional  60 days, but if no one comes by  that time, the person must be released.

Your Options

The extradition process in Maine is complicated and requires consultation with an attorney well versed in its substantive and procedural rules. If you are facing extradition, contact us at the Law Office of Richard Berne. We have decades of expertise in all areas of criminal law and procedure.