Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US warrant’

28th April 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has issued a new memorandum regarding the revocation of United States Passports by the United States Department of State. In order to better shed light upon this issue it may be best to quote directly from the interim USCIS memorandum itself:

DOS has authority to issue and revoke passports. Specifically, 22 U.S. Code (U.S.C.) 211a authorizes the Secretary of State and his or her designee (the U.S. Passport Office of the Bureau of Consular Affairs) to grant, issue, and verify passports. Through Executive Order No. 11295, 31 Fed. Reg. 10603, the President designated and empowered the Secretary of State with the authority to designate and prescribe the rules governing the granting, issuing, and verifying of passports.
DOS revokes passports in accordance with Title 22 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) sections 51.60-62, and 51.65. There are also several statutes under which passports may be revoked and that are incorporated into DOS’s regulations, including: 8 U.S.C. 1504 (the passport was illegally, fraudulently or erroneously obtained); 42 U.S.C. 652(k) (for non-payment of child support); 22 U.S.C. 2714 (for certain drug traffickers); 22 U.S.C. 2671(d)(3) (non-repayment of repatriation loan); and 22 U.S.C. 212a (adds authority to revoke passports of persons convicted of sex tourism). The regulations also require DOS to send written notification of the revocation of a passport to the bearer. See 22 CFR 51.65(a).

Clearly, as can be ascertained from the above citation, the Department of State is authorized to issue and revoke United States Passports. This can be of acute concern to those abroad with an outstanding warrant in the United States as Department of State officials routinely rescind passports upon finding that an American Citizen has a pending criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, or even a warrant in connection to domestic matters such as failure to pay American child support. Once a passport is revoked, an American may be issued a travel letter for the specific purpose of returning to the United States of America. For those unfamiliar with so-called travel letters it may be best to quote directly from the Foreign Affairs Manual:

Posts should issue travel letters only in rare or unusual circumstances described in this Appendix, where it is impossible to issue a passport. These circumstances include: (1) Law enforcement related travel letters in situations other than extradition. Such travel letters must be expressly authorized by CA/PPT/L/LA, which works with the U.S. law enforcement authority on matters related to revocation of the passport of the subject of an outstanding federal warrant. (See 7 FAM 1380 Passport Denial, Revocation, Restriction, Limitation and Surrender.)

Clearly, the Department of State only issues travel letters under rare circumstances, but US Passport revocation and travel letter issuance can occur especially in the context of Federal warrants. That said, the authority reserved to the Department of State regarding passport issuance and revocation would appear not to extend to the Department of Homeland Security‘s USCIS. To quote further from the USCIS memo cited above:

USCIS lacks the authority to revoke or confiscate a U.S. Passport. If reasons to doubt the validity of a passport come to the attention of USCIS, USCIS will not seize the passport, instruct the bearer to return the passport to DOS, or otherwise notify the bearer that there may be issues with the passport…In recent months, USCIS employees have on occasion informed customers that their U.S. Passports were invalid and should be surrendered to DOS. Upon review of certain cases, DOS determined that the passports were, in fact, valid and recognized in accordance with DOS policies and statutes. DOS has requested that USCIS direct any concerns regarding the validity of passports to DOS and not to the bearer of the passport.

It would seem from the quotation above as though the Department of State is in the best position to make a decision regarding the validity of a US Passport as such matters are within that Department’s bailiwick. As noted in the the US visa process, some matters pertaining to travel and immigration are bifurcated between the USCIS and the Department of State. Based upon the above memorandum and the Foreign Affairs Manual it would appear that Passport issues remain almost entirely within the Department of State’s mandate.

For related information please see: Arrest Warrant or Federal Warrant.

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16th November 2010

In a previous posting on this blog, this author noted that Russian National Viktor Bout, suspected international arms dealer and supposedly one of the individuals who was an inspiration for Nicholas Cage’s character in the film Lord of War, was facing extradition proceedings which could ultimately lead to charges being brought in a Court of competent jurisdiction in the United States of America. Furthermore, extradition of Mr. Bout means that he would be transferred to the care of American authorities in the lead up to his trial. To quote directly from the recently released Associated Press article on this topic:

The Thai government extradited accused Russian arms trafficker Viktor Bout to the United States on Tuesday to face terrorism charges, rejecting heavy pressure from Moscow for him to be freed.

The Cabinet approved Bout’s extradition Tuesday after a long legal battle, and Police Col. Supisarn Bhakdinarinath said the 43-year-old Russian was put aboard a plane in Bangkok at about 1:30 p.m. (0630 GMT; 1:30 a.m. EST) in the custody of eight U.S. officials.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told reporters after the Cabinet meeting that the government sided with an earlier appeals court decision that Bout could be extradited.

The issue of Mr. Bout’s extradition has been a complex and politically charged one in recent months as Thai Courts have struggled with the case in an effort to come up with a fair ruling. Exacerbating the tension for Thai authorities are the authorities in Moscow and Washington DC: each vying to see Mr. Bout sent to either Russia or the USA, respectively. To quote further from the aforementioned AP article:

A Thai court in August of 2009 originally rejected Washington’s request for Bout’s extradition on terrorism-related charges. After that ruling was reversed by an appeals court in August this year, the U.S. moved to get him out quickly, sending a special plane to stand by.

However, just ahead of the appeals court ruling, the United States forwarded new money-laundering and wire fraud charges to Thailand in an attempt to keep Bout detained if the court ordered his release. But the move backfired by requiring a hearing on the new charges. Those were dismissed in early October.

Russia says Bout is an innocent businessman and wants him in Moscow. Experts say Bout has knowledge of Russia’s military and intelligence operations and that Moscow does not want him going on trial in the United States.

The outcome of this case remains to be seen as Mr. Bout will likely face trial in America. Therefore any mention of possible outcomes in the United States Court system would be an exercise in pure speculation. However, one could surmise that after the expense of substantial time and resources on the part of the United States government to see Mr. Bout extradited to the USA it is safe to assume that a prosecution of Mr. Bout will be conducted with alacrity.

Extradition of high profile international criminals is not common, but when it does occur, the USA tends to pursue prosecution rather quickly. An interesting analogy to Mr. Bout’s situation is the American apprehension of Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian quasi-dictator captured and prosecuted in the early 1990′s for crimes related to drug trafficking and racketeering. Although Mr. Bout was not a South American dictator, this author believes that the cases are similar as they show how the United States government can be very determined when trying to apprehend individuals engaged in the international trade of contraband.

For related information please see: criminal warrant.

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15th September 2010

The American Department of State (DOS) is responsible for a great number of government functions performed in the United States of America and abroad. On this blog, we routinely post information about issues connected to DOS in an effort to disseminate useful information to Americans abroad or foreign nationals seeking information about US Immigration. It recently came to this author’s attention that the American State Department has released a new edition of a publication designed to provide insight to American law enforcement officials regarding protocols which must be adhered to in situations involving foreign Consular officials. To quote a press release from the Department of State and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

The Department of State is pleased to announce its publication of the third edition of “The Consular Notification and Access Manual.” Produced by the Bureau of Consular Affairs and the Office of the Legal Adviser, the manual instructs federal, state and local law enforcement and other officials on actions they must take to comply with U.S. obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and other international agreements. It includes details on steps U.S. authorities must take when a foreign national in the United States is arrested or detained, dies, is involved in the wreck of a foreign vessel, or requires the appointment of a guardian.

The manual, which is available free of charge, supports the Department’s efforts to ensure that the United States meets its international obligations to notify foreign consular officials about their citizens in the United States. To order the manual or to access the online version, please visit the consular notification and access section of our website at www.travel.state.gov/consularnotification.

The Vienna Convention is an important pillar of American law enforcement policy regarding foreign Missions in the United States. The rules stipulated in the Vienna Convention generally apply to personnel of US Missions abroad. Therefore, reciprocal adherence to Vienna Convention protocols creates a more stable international community for all concerned.

These issues should not be confused with those related to Americans who have been arrested abroad. As a rule, the Vienna Convention does not apply to Americans abroad who have no government affiliation. Thus, an American arrested abroad is unlikely to be treated in the same manner as American government representatives accredited to a given country.

Americans arrested overseas or those who find that they are the subject of an American warrant are well advised to contact a licensed American lawyer who can provide insight into the methods for resolving a pending criminal matter.

For related information please see: US Warrant or Extradition.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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18th July 2010

In a recent article, promulgated by The Nation Newspaper and distributed by the website ThaiVisa.com, it was announced that an American Citizen was arrested on money laundering charges on the Thai island of Koh Samui. To quote directly from ThaiVisa.com:

An American wanted by US authorities for alleged money laundering was charged on Samui Island yesterday.

Immigration police arrested Ronald Paul Shade, 39, who was allegedly fled California after international police and San Bernardino court issued arrest warrants for him. He was detained to face charges of money laundering and stealing about US$14 million.

Police said the American Embassy contacted them to trace Shade. They later found him “hiding” in Samui, which led to the arrest.

The suspect, who allegedly confessed, will be extradited to the US, according to a bilateral extradition treaty.

In the relatively recent past, occurrences such as this were relatively rare. This was likely due to the fact that the Thai Immigration database was not “tied in” to the American criminal databases and watchlists. Recently, it was announced that the Thai Immigration database would begin sharing information with their American counterparts, and vice versa. It is important to note that the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share an Extradition Treaty. Therefore, an American Citizen with a pending criminal warrant, such as the suspect in the aforementioned news report, could be detained in Thailand and extradited back to the United States to face trial for the alleged offenses.

In the United States, there are various types of warrants and writs which could be issued in an attempt to compel an American Citizen, foreign national, or lawful permanent resident, to appear before a court of competent jurisdiction. For example, a bench warrant is generally issued by a Court when a defendant has failed to appear in connection with a pending civil or criminal matter. In some cases, those with a traffic citation, who fail to properly deal with the matter, are subjected to a bench warrant until such time as the underlying charge is satisfactorily resolved.

Under certain circumstances, a court in one jurisdiction will issue a fugitive warrant for the arrest of an individual in connection with an offense committed in another jurisdiction. Although this is somewhat uncommon, such matters are highly complex and those who are the subject of such a warrant should seek competent legal advice as soon as possible in an effort to deal with the matter in accordance with all relevant laws.

It would appear that Royal Thai Immigration authorities are taking a hard line against foreigners who are suspects in legal proceedings abroad. It remain to be seen whether this policy will continue to be rigorously enforced by Thai authorities, but one could easily infer that enforcement will continue and possibly become more zealous.

For further informational reading please see: warrant or Warrant For My Arrest.

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7th July 2010

American Warrants: An Overview

Posted by : admin

The American Criminal Justice system, and the body of US law springing therefrom, is something of an amalgam of 234 years of American jurisprudence both codified and recognized by means of common law legal doctrines such as stare decisis. The following is a brief overview of US warrants and their usage by American courts in enforcing jurisdiction over individuals (both American Citizens and Foreign Nationals).

The Bench Warrant

The following is a direct quote from Wikipedia:

A bench warrant is a variant of an arrest warrant that authorizes the immediate on-sight arrest of the individual subject to the bench warrant. Typically, judges issue bench warrants for persons deemed to be in contempt of court—possibly as a result of that person’s failure to appear at the appointed time and date for a mandated court appearance. Bench warrants are issued in either criminal or civil court proceedings.

Commonly (but not always), the person who is subject to a bench warrant has intentionally avoided a court appearance to escape the perceived consequences of being found guilty of a crime. If a person was on bail awaiting criminal trial when the nonappearance took place, the court usually forfeits bail and may set a higher bail amount to be paid when the subject is rearrested, but normally the suspect is held in custody without bail. If a person has a bench warrant against them when stopped by a law enforcement officer, the authorities put them in jail and a hearing is held. The hearing usually results in the court setting a new bail amount, new conditions, and a new court appearance date. Often, if a person is arrested on a bench warrant, the court declares them a flight risk (likely to flee) and orders them held without bail.

Bench warrants are traditionally issued by sitting judges or magistrates.

There are a relatively large number of instances in which an individual finds that they have a pending bench warrant. Some opt to take the “do nothing” approach and simply hope the problem will go away on its own. Generally, this is unwise as courts rarely, if ever, allow a pending bench warrant to “go away”. Therefore, those with a pending warrant are well advised to retain competent legal counsel in an effort to deal with the matter promptly.

Arrest Warrant

With that in mind, the following quote, from the aforementioned wikipedia entry, succinctly sums up the issues regarding an outstanding arrest warrant:

An outstanding arrest warrant is an arrest warrant that has not been served. A warrant may be outstanding if the person named in the warrant is intentionally evading law enforcement, is unaware that a warrant is out for him/her, the agency responsible for executing the warrant has a backlog of warrants to serve, or a combination of these factors.

Some jurisdictions have a very high number of outstanding warrants. The U.S. state of California in 1999 had around 2.5 million outstanding warrants, with nearly 1 million of them in the Los Angeles area.[4]The city of Baltimore, Maryland, had 53,000 as of 2007.[5] New Orleans, Louisiana, has 49,000.[6]

Some places have laws placing various restrictions on persons with outstanding warrants, such as prohibiting renewal of one’s driver’s license or obtaining a passport.

The final line of the above quotation brings up a point that has previously been mentioned on this blog. Namely: the confiscation of one’s US passport by the American government if one has a pending arrest warrant in the USA. As has been previously noted on this blog, this can be an occasional occurrence outside of the United States when an American travels to a US Embassy or US Consulate to renew their passport or add visa pages at an American Citizen Services Section. In a large number of cases, if a pending arrest warrant is discovered, even if unknown to the subject, the passport will likely be seized, but the American Citizen may be given the option of being issued a travel document to travel back to the USA to deal with the pending matter.

Mittimus

Although not as commonplace in modern times, the mittimus writ is similar to a warrant and its practical application can be very similar to that of a warrant in some cases . The following is a final quote from the previously mentioned Wikipedia entry:

A mittimus is a writ issued by a court or magistrate, directing the sheriff or other executive officer to convey the person named in the writ to a prison or jail, and directing the jailor to receive and imprison the person.

An example of the usage of this word is as follows: “… Thomas Fraser, Gregor Van Iveren and John Schaver having some time since been Confirmed by the Committee of the County of Albany for being Persons disaffected to the Cause of America and whose going at large may be dangerous to the State, Ordered Thereupon that a Mittimus be made out to keep them confined till such time as they be discharged by the Board or any other three of the Commissioners.” Minutes of the Commissioners for detecting and defeating Conspiracies in the State of New York, Albany County Sessions,1778-1781. (Albany, New York: 1909) Vol. 1, Page 90

In police jargon, these writs are sometimes referred to as CAPIAS, defined as orders to “take” a person or assets. CAPIAS writs are often issued when a suspect fails to appear for a scheduled adjudication, hearing, etc.

As can be inferred from the citation above, the mittimus writ has its roots in American legal history and can still impact individuals (both American and Foreign) today.

Fugitive Warrant

Fugitive Warrants are another type of legal instrument that differ slightly from the aforementioned warrants. Below is a direct quotation from the glossary of Lawyers.com:

Definition
: an arrest warrant issued in one jurisdiction for someone who is a fugitive from another jurisdiction

Those with a pending American Fugitive Warrant are strongly advised to seek counsel from a competent American attorney in an effort to resolve the situation and deal with the legal consequences as quickly as possible.

Nothing stated above should be viewed as a definitive legal analysis regarding the issue of US Warrants. Furthermore, any individual case is unique and as a result no general information transmitted herein should be viewed as an appropriate legal analysis of a unique factual situation. For further information please see: warrant for my arrest or extradition.

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10th May 2010

In a recent posting on the popular website Thaivisa.com it was noted that the United States of America has honored an extradition request from Thai authorities that a suspect in a “drug gang” be extradited to the Kingdom of Thailand. The following is quoted from ThaiVisa.com:

BANGKOK: — Suwit “Cheng” Prasoprat, a member of the China-based “14K” drug gang, was handed over to Thai authorities on Sunday, nine years after a request for his extradition was filed, deputy attorney-general Thavorn Panichpan said yesterday.

Thavorn said members of the drug gang fled overseas after police investigators filed a case in February 2001 against Thaveewit Krairattanareuk, 46, plus Suwit and four others for having 3.6 tonnes of heroin destined for the US, and the attorney-general agreed to prosecute the gang.

Once it was discovered that Suwit was lying low in the US, Thai authorities filed an extradition request in March 2001, which was approved by an American court. However, Suwit appealed against the extradition in 2002, and though the Appeal Court upheld the lower court ruling, he appealed again to the Supreme Court. On April 19 this year, the US authorities notified Thailand that the extradition request had finally been approved and Suwit arrived in Bangkok on Sunday.

Lawyer Rewat Chanprasert said they previously extradited Boonsong Mekpongsathorn, 60, another suspect in the same case who also fled to the US.

Boonsong had been given the death sentence by the Thon Buri Criminal Court in January 2005, and the case was now with the Appeal Court. Thaveewit and another suspect, Komsak Kornjamrassakul, 50, were given life sentences in June 2001 and are now appealing their jail terms.

Narcotics Suppression Bureau chief Pol Lt-General Adithep Panjamanont said court permission would be sought to detain Suwit for a week pending further investigation, before the case was handed to prosecutors. He said the case stemmed from an arrest in 1998 over the possession of 126 kg of heroin on its way to the United States.

Police inquiries showed that Suwit, a Thai man with two nationalities and an address in the US, plus accomplices in China and Hong Kong known as the 14K gang, had carried out criminal activities in Thailand including arms deals, human trafficking and drug dealing.

Thai and US authorities worked together on the case until they had enough evidence for arrest warrants for Suwit and Boonsong in 2001, he said.

Adithep added that the police would extend the investigation to cover money-laundering and other criminal charges on Thai soil against Suwit, his accomplices and the 14K gang.

It was also reported that there are two other suspects in the same case – Suchat Rakraeng, who remains at large, and Kriengkrai Diewtrakul, who is in a Chiang Rai prison for another crime.

In an increasingly “globalized” world, cross-jurisdictional cooperation is becoming evermore commonplace. In the scenario described above, it is interesting to note that the subject is being extradited back to Thailand. There are some who speculate that as Thai authorities connect their computer systems to international warrant databases an increased number of foreign nationals residing in Thailand will be extradited to foreign jurisdictions as a result of increasing requests for extradition. Whether or not this will actually occur remains to be seen, but it is interesting to note the increasing trend of intergovernmental cooperation on an international level.

It should be noted that Royal Thai Immigration Police have begun integrating their system with warrant and criminal databases around the world. Therefore, there is reason to believe that this inter-connectivity could have a dramatic impact of Thai visa issuance and Immigration procedures in the future.

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29th April 2010

In a recent case that was heard and adjudicated by the United States Supreme Court, the issue of Immigrants’ right to counsel was taken up and the outcome of the case resulted in a landmark opinion and a watershed moment for the rights of Immigrants in the United States of America. The case is known as Padilla v. Kentucky, the following quote comes from an email from the Law Corporation of Alice M. Yardum-Hunter:

The case involved a 40-year permanent resident, Jose Padilla, whose criminal defense lawyer advised him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime. That advice was not only wrong but the guilty plea subjected Mr. Padilla to mandatory deportation from the United States. The Kentucky Supreme Court held that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. The Supreme Court reversed that decision and rejected the federal government’s position – also adopted by several other courts – that a noncitizen is protected only from “affirmative misadvice” and not from a lawyer’s failure to provide any advice about the immigration consequences of a plea. The Court held that Mr. Padilla’s counsel was constitutionally deficient and affirmed that immigrants should not be held accountable when they rely on incorrect advice from their lawyers or where counsel fails to provide any immigration advice at all.

The implications of this case are important for attorneys practicing in the United States as they will now be required to provide advice about the legal consequences of certain activities from an Immigration perspective.

This is also important for those American Immigration Lawyers practicing outside of the United States. For example, if an individual with lawful permanent residence in the United States is abroad and learns of a pending criminal warrant or fugitive warrant, then that individual may choose to retain the advice of a US lawyer outside of the United States. In that case, the lawyer would be required, under the provisions of this recently adjudicated decision, to provide advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea in a pending criminal matter.

This example illustrates one more reason why it is so important to retain the advice of an individual who is licensed to practice law in the USA. This is particularly important in a country such as Thailand where the existence of “visa companies,” “visa agents,” and unlicensed and non-accredited so-called “lawyers” and “attorneys” operate with little oversight. Many are unaware of the implications of a criminal pleading in an immigration context and this ignorance can lead to unforeseen difficulties for US Immigrants overseas.

For information about United States Immigration from Thailand please see: K1 Visa Thailand.

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24th March 2010

The issue of extradition is becoming more important as the world becomes increasingly “small” thanks in part to technology and the movement towards globalization. In a global environment, legal issues are becoming increasingly international as people are leaving their home countries and taking up residence in countries abroad. In order to understand extradition we need to understand how the international legal system operates when it comes to the issue of dealing with individuals who have warrants or arrests in multiple jurisdictions.  First we need to define what “extradition” means as it can have a significant impact upon individuals throughout the world.

The online informational resource wikipedia.com defines Extradition as follows:

“Extradition is the official process whereby one nation or state surrenders a suspected or convicted criminal. Between nation states, extradition is regulated by treaties.”

This leads to the question: If extradition is the process of surrendering foreign criminals to another nation, then how do countries determine when it is appropriate to extradite individuals? This can be incredibly important as activities which are considered criminal in one jurisdiction may be considered legal in another. To further quote wikipedia:

“The consensus in international law is that a state does not have any obligation to surrender an alleged criminal to a foreign state as one principle of sovereignty is that every state has legal authority over the people within its borders. Such absence of international obligation and the desire of the right to demand such criminals of other countries have caused a web of extradition treaties or agreements to evolve; most countries in the world have signed bilateral extradition treaties with most other countries. No country in the world has an extradition treaty with all other countries…”

Extradition Treaties represent the agreement between two countries regarding the procedure for dealing with those individuals who have a criminal warrant or conviction in one of the nations that is a party to the Treaty. The Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America have an Extradition Treaty. To quote the American State Department’s website:

“There is a bilateral treaty on Extradition in force between the United States and Thailand, 11 Bevans 1008, 43 Stat. 1749 (1924) and Treaty relating to extradition signed at Washington December 14, 1983, entered into force May 17, 1991. There is a treaty on transfer of prisoners “Treaty on Cooperation in Execution of Penal Sentences” signed at Bangkok October 29, 1982, entered into force December 7, 1988.”

From a practical standpoint, the existence of an Extradition Treaty does not necessarily mean that those with arrest warrants, convictions, or fugitive warrants in the USA will be automatically picked up, arrested, and extradited by authorities in Thailand. Instead, this is unlikely as the Thai authorities do not have direct access to the databases that contain US criminal warrant information. However, recently the Thai immigration authorities have announced that they are taking measures to streamline their information gathering process when it comes to foreign nationals. Authorities in Thailand hope to be “plugged in” to US law enforcement databases soon.

Another issue with regard to US warrants involves US passports as Consular Officers at the American Citizen Services Section of the US Embassy in Bangkok may confiscate an American’s passport if they have outstanding US warrants. In such a scenario, the American would likely be accorded an opportunity to willingly return to the USA.

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22nd February 2010

Recently the Royal Thai Immigration Police Department announced a new initiative to sweep up foreign criminals residing in Thailand. This effort is to be made possible through what appears to be the interlinking of various warrant databases. Once Thai Immigration officials link their system to that of countries such as the United States, or international organizations such as the European Union it will be less difficult to track down those in Thailand with a foreign arrest warrant or fugitive warrant.

The Bangkok Post is reporting that the new chief of the Thai Immigration Bureau is taking measures to see that foreign criminals in Thailand are apprehended through an initiative known as the “Three S’s” The Three S’s stand for “Security Standards and Service.”

In the realm of security, new initiatives are to be taken which will provide Royal Thai Immigration Police with access to international criminal warrant databases. These records would provide Thai Immigration officers as well as regular police officers with criminal histories of foreigners present in the Kingdom of Thailand. This information will be used to ascertain the location of such international criminals and facilitate apprehension.

The new campaign will also entail the creation of a new National Criminal Center. This Center seems to be intended as a repository for international criminal records. At the time of this writing, it is the author’s understanding that this Center will coordinate their activities with such foreign agencies as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, as well as other national, state, and local law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and around the world.

Another facet of Thai Immigration’s crackdown is the campaign to apprehend and deal with illegal aliens. Based upon the information contained in the above cited Bangkok Post article the new Royal Thai Immigration Chief seems to have expressed an intention to apprehend those foreign nationals who are present in the country illegally. How this will impact long term western tourists and expatriates remains to be seen as overstaying one’s Thai visa has become increasingly common since it is not longer possible to obtain a 30 day visa exemption stamp at Thai land borders.

In a way, these two initiatives are related as it could be easily inferred that those using Thailand as a place to evade foreign criminal warrants could also be Thailand visa violators.

For more information on this issue please see a previous blog post located here: criminal warrant.

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