Minor offences: proportionality in extradition
Can extradition be ordered for minor offences? Here’s what our experts at JFH Crime have to say.
Every so often, there are newspaper reports of people facing extradition for what appear to be minor offences. For example, Irish authorities are becoming increasingly frustrated about extradition requests over offences committed decades in the past.
We have recently dealt with a case where a man was wanted in Poland for ‘abusing a police officer’ and refusing to put an advert in his local paper apologising to the officer.
However, there are laws in place that cover when extradition can be ordered for minor offences.
How extradition is decided
In 2014, the Extradition Act had a new section added to it to deal with this sort of situation. Where a person is accused of an offence, the judge overseeing the case must decide whether their extradition would be disproportionate. The section says what the Judge can consider:
1. The seriousness of the offence.
There is a list of offences that could be seen as not being serious enough; minor theft such as shoplifting, driving offences where nobody was hurt or minor criminal damage. However, it is up to the judge hearing the case to make that decision.
2. The likely penalty if the person is found guilty.
As far as the likely penalty is concerned, the judge must consider whether a person is likely to get a prison sentence if they are found guilty. That decision has to be based on the sentences likely to be passed in the requesting country, not the sentence that would probably be passed in this country.
3. The possibility of the foreign authority taking ‘less coercive measures.’
Less coercive measures can include the person agreeing to return voluntarily, appearance via video link, or answering a summons.
Before a European Arrest Warrant – now known as a Trade and Co-operation Agreement Warrant since Brexit – is issued, the National Crime Agency must consider whether extradition would be proportionate. As a result, many warrants that would probably be seen by a judge as being disproportionate never actually get to court in the first place.
Expert extradition advice from JFH Crime
Get in touch with us today if you wish to discuss your extradition matter with us further, or to find out whether you would be eligible for legal aid for extradition matters.
We have a dedicated team of lawyers specialising in extradition who are here to help you at every stage of your case, proactively looking to halt the proceedings as early as possible.
At JFH Crime, we put our clients first, and providing airtight advice and taking the time to thoroughly understand each individual case that comes to us. With an active presence at Westminster Magistrates Court, where all extradition cases in England and Wales begin, we’re available to start working on your case today.
Please note that the information contained in this article was correct at the time of writing. There may have been updates to the law since the article was written, which may affect the information and advice given therein.