There is no doubt that extradition has been a practice area of criminal law for decades in NJ but I have definitely witnessed a rise in activity. In fact, the US Marshals service and state law enforcement undertook an initiative approximately six (6) months ago to roundup fugitives from justice. Our office was consulted and/or retained on several cases arising out of this effort and some individuals were to be extradited on warrants that originated as much as fifteen (15) years old. But what does this renaissance in the government’s interest to extradite really mean for the public and legal community?
My impression is that a lot of the renewed interest has to do with money. Almost every state and the Federal Government are strapped for funds so a nice target is fugitives. If someone has fled a jurisdiction before completing probation or parole, or before resolving a criminal charge, they are deemed criminal fugitives; the term of art is “fugitive from justice”. Not only First Degree and Second Degree Crimes carry the potential for someone being extradited – Third and Fourth Degree charges can also provide a basis to extradite. There certainly is no compelling reason to have any sympathy for these individuals in the eyes of the general public. And if a defendant is going to have any chance of resolving his underlying criminal charges he or she is going to have to make good for all kinds of financial liabilities to the government including extradition costs and expenses, bail, contempt orders, probation and parole fees, etc. This all means not only revenue to the states and/or federal government but also good public relations.
In tough times like these, government is exploring all avenues to generate revenue. Fugitives are much like lawyers – a group to which the general public is not sympathetic. Perhaps this analogy is an extreme but I would have to admit that it really is not far off. Bring on the orders and warrants for extradition for our brethren.