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A recent case in Florida has gained national attention after a DUI manslaughter defendant who was out on bail fled the country and returned to Brazil, her native country. Thus far, Brazilian authorities have declined to grant the United States’ extradition request and the defendant remains a fugitive from justice. In many cases, people charged with all types of DUI-related charges want to know exactly how California handles extradition.
Typically, if the defendant is charged with a felony level DUI offense, such as DUI causing injury in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23153, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated pursuant to California Penal Code Section 191.5(b), gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated under California Penal Code Section 191.5(a) or DUI Murder per California Penal Code Section 187, California authorities will actively seek extradition on any warrant for these underlying felonies. This means that if the defendant is arrested in another state for one of these felony offenses, California will pay for the incarceration and transportation of the fugitive in order to bring him or her back to California to face criminal charges.
If the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor DUI offense, the law enforcement officer in another state may discover the active warrant but may be unable to do anything about it. This is because California typically is not interested in extraditing misdemeanor level criminal defendants. If the defendant wanted to resolve his or her case, he or she would have to return to California in order to deal with the case directly. Even if the defendant is stopped by law enforcement for DUI in a different county in California and is alerted to the presence of an active misdemeanor warrant, the officer may simply release the defendant if arrangements to pick up and transport the defendant are not made.
In many cases, having an active out-of-state warrant will appear on criminal backgrounds checks performed by employers and could jeopardize future job prospects. In addition, a warrant typically triggers a hold from the DMV on the defendant’s driver’s license. This hold will be communicated to the licensing authorities of all other states who are part of the Interstate Compact and the driver would most likely be unable to qualify for a driver’s license or have his or her license renewed until the out-of-state warrant has been cleared up.
In some instances, the defendant may be able to file a motion to dismiss the underlying criminal case for failure to prosecute in a timely fashion. Commonly known as a Serna motion, this motion seeks a dismissal of the charges where the prosecutor or law enforcement agency did not actively try to locate or secure the defendant while the case was pending.
Extradition is treated differently when the fugitive leaves United States jurisdiction and is in a foreign country. The United States may or may not have diplomatic relations or extradition treaties with the foreign country involved. Some countries refuse to extradite criminal defendants and have subsequently gained reputations as hideouts for those who want to avoid criminal prosecution in the United States.