Minor offences: proportionality in extradition
Can I be extradited for a minor offence?
Every so often, there are newspaper reports of people facing extradition for what appear to be minor offences; for example, recently there were reports of a man wanted in Greece for offences of joyriding and criminal damage. 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.
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 has to decide whether his/her extradition would be disproportionate. The section says what the Judge can take into account:
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 has to 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 videolink, or answering a summons.
Before an EAW (European Arrest Warrant) is issued, the National Crime Agency has to consider whether extradition would be proportionate. As a result, a number of warrants that would probably be seen by a judge as being disproportionate never actually get to court in the first place.
Please contact us on 0207 388 1658, or email email@example.com 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.
John Howey, Senior Solicitor