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NYC Extradition Defense Lawyers

The extradition defense law firm of Joseph Potashnik & Associates PC is a boutique Manhattan-based, extradition defense law firm with a respected staff, and stellar record – when it comes to handling extradition defense cases. Regardless of the complexity of the case, our staff(who has over 75 years of combined experience), has the experience necessary to help defend those at risk of being extradited. We are a boutique criminal defense law firm, and take on fewer clients – preferring to provide greater attention to the clients we choose to work with. We are experienced trial lawyers, and understand the in’s and out’s of the criminal defense system – especially when it comes to politically motivated extradition defense cases. If you are at risk of being extradited, regardless of the reason, we can help you!
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We handle all forms of criminal defense in New York City, Long Island, and in some cases the entire USA.

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Our firm focuses on educating our clients about their present situation, and the potential outcome they can expect.
Here are some of the more commonly asked questions.

Each year, hundreds of individuals wanted by American law enforcement are provisionally arrested across the world on request of the U.S. government. After extradition proceedings which last from several weeks to several years the vast majority of these fugitives are extradited to the United States to face criminal charges in federal and state courts. The fugitives always have legal representation by local attorneys throughout the extradition process but having an American criminal attorney as co-counsel to the local lawyer can actually make a tremendous impact on the outcome of the case.

In our experience, non-American attorneys handling extraditions to the United States too often fail to utilize the experience of an American lawyer to assist their client in the application of American law. Too often, clients wait until an Order of Extradition is signed before they reach out to an American lawyer for assistance.

By the time a fugitive is extradited, it is generally too late for a U.S. attorney to offer help as effectively as could have been possible had the U.S. attorney been involved in the case earlier. The U.S. Department of Justice knows this and will act aggressively to convince foreign courts to grant extradition requests. We have seen cases were in doing so they misrepresent American (and extradition law) to the foreign courts because they know there is no American lawyer to contradict that which they say in foreign court. Most foreign courts will all too often accept the statements of fact and conclusions of law offered to them by the U.S. Department of Justice, without ever testing whether those statements of fact and/or law are true and correct. Oftentimes, those statements are either false or so slanted as to be a complete misrepresentation of American jurisprudence.

A local defense attorney who has an American lawyer at his side may be able to raise objections to the U.S. government’s representation of the case making extradition much more difficult.

For example, the government may represent that a fugitive is wanted on money laundering or fraud charges, extraditable offenses. However, the defense may argue that the case actually involves tax liability, a non-extraditable offense under many extradition treaties. Facing the prospect of lengthy and expensive extradition battle, the government may agree to dismiss some more serious charges so that the fugitive will be prosecuted for other, less serious offenses, facing much milder penalties.

Another benefit of having a US criminal lawyer involved early is that in most federal cases the government always has a head start. By the time a person is arrested, the government has all the evidence and the defense must scramble to catch up. In extradition cases, even if the fugitive has been indicted, federal prosecutors don’t really pay much attention to the case before the fugitive has been brought into the U.S. The defense however may get a good grip on the case during the time the extradition process is pending. That will make the job of defending the criminal case in America much easier.

In these circumstances, even if fugitives lose the extradition battle, as it happens most of the time, they can either limit the scope of their prosecution in the United States or get a significant benefit of being well prepared to defend their case. Losing the battle doesn’t mean losing the war!

Not all crimes are extraditable. That largely depends on the particular treaty. Some treaties specify the extraditable offenses and some only provide general outlines. Every treaty to which the United States is a party has a list of extraditable crimes. One of the main issues in any extradition proceeding in the US is whether the crime in question is covered by the treaty, which is not always obvious. Under the double criminality rule, for a person to be extradited, the crime for which he is being sought is a crime in both countries, the parties to the treaty. If the particular conduct is not a crime in one of the countries, under the double criminality rule the person can’t be extradited.

Under the rule of speciality, a fugitive extradited into the United States can only be prosecuted for the specific crime for which he has been extradited and not for any other crime. Using the rule of speciality is tricky, though because the government often uses the facts of the case to bring charges that steam from the conduct, even though these charges were not listed in the extradition request.

While defending extradition cases is always a formidable task even for experienced lawyers, some defenses have been successfully used to stop extradition. The following are the defenses that can be used in an extradition case.

Political Crimes – US courts will generally deny extradition requests if the defense demonstrates that the offense was political in nature and the defendant’s prosecution in the foreign country is politically motivated.

Military crimes – some crimes are “military” in nature, meaning that there is no equivalent for these crimes in civil legal codes. An example would be desertion. Such crimes are generally not extraditable.

Minors could also be protected from extradition.

Statute of Limitations – US courts may deny extradition request if the prosecution would be barred by the statute of limitations. In most cases the statute of limitations defense will not apply where the authorities were trying to find the fugitive while the charges were pending.

Double jeopardy defense would apply where there is a concern that the defendant may be tried twice for the same offense.

Illegal Sentence – extradition may be prevented if the fugitive may face a punishment in the requesting country, which is illegal in the receiving country. Death penalty is a good example. If a defendant held in the EU may face death penalty in the US, extradition may be denied based on that unless the US government promises not to seek death penalty.

According to fellow attorney Edmund El Dabe, extradition cannot be used for civil cases - such as those arising from injuries, etc.