“Stay out of dodge orders” have become somewhat commonplace in the criminal justice system across the region, and likely the whole of the United States, but the question of whether these orders are constitutional has come to light.

These orders are typically manifested after a person has been arrested or cited and was released from jail. The person then fails to appear in court or comply with the terms of the judicial process and an arrest warrant is issued. The warrant typically lists terms of extradition.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines extradition as, “The official surrender of an alleged criminal by one state or country to another having jurisdiction over the crime charged; the return of a fugitive from justice, regardless of consent, by the authority where the fugitive is found.”

The terms of extradition listed in the extradition warrant can stipulate several things; for example, fugitives or alleged criminals will only be picked up from an outside jurisdiction if it is within a certain range, 100 miles, only states bordering the originating state, within the U.S.

To expand further on this, if someone is arrested in Denver, Colorado and fails to appear in court, an arrest warrant may be issued for their apprehension to mandate their appearance in court. The warrant will stipulate where the fugitive can and cannot be apprehended.

Using the hypothetical fugitive from Denver, Colorado as an example, the person could be arrested only while they are within the political jurisdiction, or boundaries, of the state of Colorado, unless the warrant specifies otherwise. If this person were in Cheyenne, they could not be arrested for the warrant unless the warrant explicitly specified out-of-state extradition is permitted under the terms of the warrant.

Now, the current paradox some legal jurisdictions are facing.

Using the example above, only this time the person who failed to appear in court has been issued a warrant for their arrest, but with nationwide extradition. That same person has an encounter with law enforcement, a traffic stop for example, in Cheyenne.

During the traffic stop, the officer contacts his dispatch center and inquires whether the person has any current warrants. The dispatcher tells the officer, yes, the person has a warrant out of Denver, Colorado with nationwide extradition.

That officer is now legally bound under Wyoming §7-3-202 to place that person under arrest and hold them until they can have an extradition hearing. During the hearing, a judge would determine whether the warrant was valid; thereby determining whether probable cause exists to believe the correct person was arrested and whether the person is charged with or convicted of a crime in another jurisdiction.

After the judge determines this is the correct person and the person is charged with or convicted of a crime in another jurisdiction, typically, the county sheriff is then charged with the task of contacting the originating agency and deciding the details of transferring the person back to the original jurisdiction.

The problem arises when the jurisdiction who issued the warrant decides, “we don’t want them back, just kick them loose.”

In the example above, the officer arrested the person on a valid warrant, deprived them of their freedom of movement by holding the person in custody, likely impounded their vehicle and cost the local agency, jail, judicial system and community time and money. All of this occurred and now the originating agency has decided, “we don’t want them back.” The local community, agencies and person involved will never be reimbursed or paid back for this miscarriage of justice.

The problem doesn’t lie with the agency who arrested the person, but rather the jurisdiction responsible for the issuance of the arrest warrant.

Adding to the issue, the person now knows they have an arrest warrant out of the original jurisdiction and will likely not return to the original jurisdiction as they are aware they will be arrested for the warrant upon their return.

There is a simple fix to this issue, and it is a matter of correcting the extradition stipulations in the warrant and National Crime Information Center (NCIC), the system through which officers query to learn whether subjects have warrants or not.

On a more complicated note, there are some jurisdictions who leave the option of in-state and out-of-state extradition open on the warrant and NCIC, but then refuse to pick up the fugitive after they have been apprehended somewhere that is “too far away” or because they do not want the person returning to their jurisdiction for a multitude of reasons, but most commonly because they are a “bad person” or are habitually criminal.

This is issue is not only a nationwide issue, but also a local issue.

This miscarriage of justice not only could be viewed as a potential constitutional rights issue, but also costs the Niobrara County taxpayers.

After the arrest has been made, the fugitive is housed, fed and medically cared for while staying at the detention center. The fugitive is then subject to court appearances which results in lawyer costs, lawyer salaries, judge salaries, officer salaries and potentially much more, depending upon how long it takes for the other agency to pick up their fugitive or decide to have them released because they “don’t want them back.”

The Lusk Herald

July 14

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