Recently in Extraditions Category

August 25, 2012

DNA Leads to Arrest of a Man Accused of Sexual Battery

A former mayoral candidate was arrested in Rock Hill, South Carolina based on an arrest warrant that accused him of the crimes of armed sexual battery, burglary and robbery. Baxter Tisdale is currently in custody in South Carolina awaiting extradition to Miami, Florida to face the charges. Once Tisdale arrives in Miami, his case will be set for an arraignment before a circuit court judge. He will either be represented by a privately retained Miami criminal lawyer or an attorney from the Miami-Dade County Public Defender's Office. Tisdale waived extradition which will speed up his return to South Florida to face criminal charges.

When a defendant is arrested outside of the jurisdiction charging him or her with a crime, the extradition process must be complied with prior to the defendant being returned to the jurisdiction. A defendant can either waive or contest extradition. Waiving the process will allow for a more speedy return to the place from where the allegation occured. If a defendant does not agree to waive extradition, the prosecuting body must present the warrant to the jurisdiction holding the defendant and must be able to establish that the person in custody is the correct person sought in the warrant for committing an offense.

Tisdale is facing life in prison for the incident which occurred in the early morning hours on February 18, 1986. Court documents reflect that the defendant committing a burglary by entering the victim's residence without permission with the intent to commit a sexual battery. The defendant allegedly entered the victim's bedroom where she was sleeping with her seven month-old son. He is alleged to have placed a knife to her throat and raped her. Tisdale purportedly pushed her onto her bed, placed a pillow over her face and assaulted her sexually for approximately two minutes.

After the assault, the victim was treated at Jackson Memorial Hospital Rape Treatment Center in Miami, Florida. As is typical in most rape cases, hospital staff completed a rape treatment kit on the victim. As part of the process, DNA was collected which was later found to match that belonging to Tisdale. Defendants in most cases are required to provide a DNA swab upon being found guilty by a jury or entering a plea to certain offenses, typically felonies. The arrest warrant does not mention how the defendant DNA became part of the data base, but it is believed that he provided his DNA in another unrelated criminal matter. While the victim could not identify her attacker in a line-up, she did recall seeing him around the neighborhood. Even without a positive identification, the prosecuting authority will still have a solid case against the defendant based on the DNA evidence. Tisdale left Miami in 1986 and moved to Rock Hill where he has a criminal history for theft, petit larceny and driving with a suspended license. It is not clear whether he DNA became part of the data base as a result of those criminal offenses.

Police: Rape Victim Feared for Her Life with Knife to Throat, HeraldOnline.com, August 17, 2012.

July 5, 2011

Bail Skippers Not Pursued

The majority of defendants arrested are entitled to post a bond to secure their release from custody. The procedure for posting bonds in the state court system can be accomplished in two ways. First, a defendant can pay the entire amount of the bond to the clerk of courts and then be released from custody. The most common approach to posting bail is by hiring a bondsman. A defendant will be required to provide the bondsman with 10% of the value of the bond and in many instances provide collateral for the difference. If money is not an issue, Miami criminal defense lawyers suggest posting the entire amount of the bond. Upon the conclusion of the case, the defendant is entitled to the return of the full amount of the bond. When using a bondsman, the 10% premium will not be returned.

While the majority of defendant charged with a crime appear in court to face the charges, a minority of defendants flee the jurisdiction with the hope that they can avoid prosecution. A defendant is who posts a cash bond and flees the jurisdiction is relatively safe from prosecution. Upon failing to appear for court, a judge will issue an alias capias or arrest warrant for the defendant. Unless the case is high-profile, there is little chance that the authorities will seek out the absentee defendant. In most instances, the case and the warrant will remain open unless a defendant tries to re-enter the country and is picked up by the customs authorities. In other instances, defendants are picked up on other cases in other jurisdictions for cases as minor as speeding tickets. In this cases, defendants will be arrested and returned to face criminal charges. Defendants who absent themselves from the court proceedings have a more tenuous situation when a bondsman is involved in the bail process.

In cases where a bondsman is used to post bail, and a defendant fails to appear in court, the bondsman is left in a precarious situation. Although he bondsman has received the 10% premium, he or she is on the hook for the difference in the bond. In simple terms, a bondsman will actively seek out a defendant who misses court as there is significant money to be lost if the defendant is not returned to face charges. Bondsman are more successful if a defendant remains local, but have a difficult time if a defendant leaves the country. To return a defendant to the United States to face charges, an extradition process mut followed. To the dismay of bondsman, counties are not willing to spend the time or money to extradite defendants back to court of original jurisdiction. Even though bondsman are able to track down defendants outside of the United States, the local prosecutors' offices are not willing to expend the time, energy or expense to get the defendants back to face charges.

While in most instances it is better to face charges with assistance of a good criminal attorney, a defendant who flees the country can be relatively at ease that they will not be extradicted back to the country to face charges. Prosecutors claim on the record that they avail themselves of the extradition process. However, they are aware of the difficulties in retrieving defendants to face charges. Prosecutors from all over the state will admit, that even though the proper extradition paperwork is filed, they have little power to make the process work. While it is never recommended to abscond from criminal charges, the safest way to avoid prosecution is to leave the country. Remember, once that decision has been made, any return to the United States will likely result in being arrested by customs authorities at airports or ports.

Pursuit Rare for Bail Fugitives Who Skip the Country, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting, July 5, 2011.

May 18, 2010

Jamaican Government Agrees to Extradite Cocaine Trafficking Kingpin

Succumbing to pressure from his own government and the United States, the Jamaican Prime Minister signed extradition orders for one of Jamaica's most notorious cocaine trafficking kingpins. Denying several requests to extradite Christopher "Dudus" Coke, Prime Minister Bruce Golding changed gears and announced that he would allow the alleged drug trafficker to be extradited to New York to stand trial. An indictment out of New York alleges that Coke has been involved in cocaine trafficking, marijuana trafficking and gunrunning since the 1990's. Once Coke is extradited to the United States, it is believed that he will retain a criminal defense law firm to defend the allegations.

When the information regarding the information went public, widespread fear hit the streets of Kingston with businesses shutting down and people fleeing the city. According to court documents, Coke is the leader of gang called the "Shower Posse" with ties to cocaine, marijuana and firearm trafficking. The gang controls a neighborhood within Kingston called "Tivoli Garderns". The interesting part is that Golding represents "Tivoli Gardens" in parliament. Coke has been credited for keeping the neighborhood a relatively peaceful place to live. In an interesting turn of events, the prime minister had previously authorized the retention of a Los Angeles criminal defense law firm to lobby Washington to drop the extradition.

Unless something changes, Coke will be flown to the United States and appear at a pre-trial detention hearing before a federal court magistrate judge. Th criminal lawyer representing Coke may seek an extraordinary bond to secure his client's release. In deciding whether issue Coke or any other defendant for that matter a bond, the federal magistrate must determine whether or not the defendant is a danger to the community. In all probability, the magistrate will find that the defendant is a danger to the community because the allegations include drug trafficking and gun smuggling. The second decision a magistrate must make in determining a bond is a defendant's ties to the community. Coke's counsel will have difficult time proving that he is not a flight risk. The defendant has no ties to the community and had to be extradited back to the United States. In all likelihood, Coke will sit in jail awaiting trial.

The federal government despite its crusades against mortgage fraud and Medicare fraud, continue the war on drugs. Recent extraditions from Columbia, Mexico and now Jamaica demonstrate that the federal authorities are still attempting to diminish the inflow of drugs into this country. Even with the extradition of foreign drug traffickers to face federal charges, one would think that the federal government would understand that the removal of one trafficker would beget another to take his or her place. The war on drugs has continued since the Reagan administration. While the effort has been exhaustive and the amount of cocaine flowing into Miami has diminished, new fronts on the Mexican border have opened up to move illegal substances into the country.

Jamaica Agrees to Turn Over Accused Drug Kingpin to U.S., The Miami Herald, May 17, 2010.

March 23, 2010

Noriega's Extradition Fight Ends Without Success

It appears as if Manuel Noriega's last ditch effort to avoid extradition to France may be over. His attorneys had previously filed two petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to avoid being sent back to France to stand trial. The high court rejected Noriega's second bid to appeal an earlier decision which will allow France to take Noriega and have him stand trial on money laundering charges. The former Panamanian president is accused of laundering $3.1 million in drug money by purchasing an apartment in Paris, France. The Miami federal criminal attorney representing Noriega acknowledged that the battle against extradition seemed to have run its course.

The French courts have already convicted Noriega of money laundering in absentia, but the French government has promised him a new criminal trial upon his return. Noriega was arrested during the U.S. invasion of Panama. In 1992, after a lengthy trial Noriega was convicted in a Miami, Florida federal court for cocaine trafficking, money laundering and racketeering. He completed his 10 year prison sentence in September 2007, but remains in federal custody. He has been held beyond his release date while the extradition matter with France was sorted out in the federal court system.

In 1992, soon after his arrest, a federal judge ruled that Noriega was a prisoner of war and given POW status. Later, the same judge ruled that his POW status did not preclude his extradition to a third party. Noriega's appellate attorneys tried to use his prisoner of war status to block his extradition. His attorneys argued that his prisoner of war status under the Geneva Convention gave him the right to be repatriated back to Panama. The lower federal courts have ruled otherwise and have deemed the extradition to France proper. As the legal experts opined, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case.

Noriega's criminal defense attorney is expected to travel to France next week in an effort to resolve the money laundering case favorably for his client. The attorney was quoted as saying, "There are no options left in the United States, it's over." The federal marshals have not disclosed when Noriega will be transported to France. The marshal service usually does not disclose prisoner transfers for security reasons.

Supreme Court Refuses Noriega's Re-Hearing Request, The Washington Post, March 22, 2010.

February 22, 2010

Noriega Seeks to Block Extradition to France

Manuel Noriega continues to fight his extradition to France. His attorneys have filed a petition with the United States Supreme Court in a last ditch effort to avoid being sent back to France to stand trial. He has already been convicted in absentia, but France has promised him a new criminal trial upon his return. Noriega was convicted in 1992 in a Miami, Florida federal court for cocaine trafficking, money laundering and racketeering. He completed his prison sentence more than two and a half years ago, but remains confined awaiting the final decision on his extradition. France is waiting to charge Noriega for allegedly laundering money through French banks. Noriega's criminal defense lawyers hope that the highest court in the land will hear the appeal based on a Supreme Court justice's dissenting opinion on another case.

Noriega's appellate attorney believes that a finding in favor of Noriega could force the federal court system to handle differently the cases of the Guantanamo Bay detainees that are being held as prisoners of war. Noriega is trying to use his prisoner of war status to block his extradition. His attorneys believe that his prisoner of war status under the Geneva Convention gives him the right to be repatriated back to Panama. The federal courts have ruled otherwise and have deemed the extradition to France proper. Legal experts highly doubt that the Supreme Court will even hear the case. They believe that the Supreme Court would rather address the Guantanamo detainees because there are over two hundred cases dealing with that matter.

If the Supreme Court were to hear the case, even a Miami military lawyer knows the Military Commissions Act of 2006 prohibits the use of the Geneva Convention in federal court to secure one's release or prevent one's extradition. Noriega and the Guantanamo Bay detainees are trying to use the Geneva Convention to convince the federal government that all prisoners of war have right under the act to be sent home or repatriated at the cessation of hostilities. Justice Thomas wrote in his dissent on another matter somewhat related to the aforementioned matters, "Whatever conclusion we reach, our opinion will help the political branches and the courts discharge their responsibilities over detainee cases, and will spare some detainees and the government years of unnecessary litigation."

Noriega's appellate attorney states, "He's entitled to protection under the Geneva Convention. It requires that prisoners of war be repatriated after the cessation of hostilities." Not only does France want a piece of Noriega, but so does his home country of Panama. He is accused of murdering a political rival prior to his capture by United States armed forces. The United States has decided to honor France's extradition request over Panama's, probably for political reasons. The United States Attorney's Office has filed a petition in federal court to extradite Noriega to France immediately. The federal judge presiding over the case has yet to make a ruling on the petition. If his final effort with the Supreme Court fails, he can still appeal to the Secretary of State whose signature in necessary to complete the extradition procedure.

Noreiga Appeals to the U.S. High Court to Avert Extradition to France, CNN.com, February 18, 2010.

January 25, 2010

Fugitives from Law Enforcement Flock to Miami and South Florida

Federal law enforcement authorities recently released a report indicating that the majority of fugitives are eventually captured in Miami and the South Florida area. The United States Marshal's Office have a wide variety of responsibilities including guarding federal courthouses, overseeing the federal witness protection program and selling of seized assets forfeited by criminals. The Marshals spend countless man-hours capturing would be fugitives. In 2008, the marshals were responsible for the capture of 36,000 federal fugitives and approximately 73,000 local and state fugitives. More than half of those were captured in Miami and South Florida. Supervisory Deputy Barry Golden gave the following explanation for the skewed numbers. "Part of it is the weather. But also, South Florida is a multi-national, multi-racial, multi-lingual, is there anyone who really stands out; not really, it is easy to blend in."

As a result of the large number of fugitives being captured in Miami and South Florida, many Miami criminal lawyers have garnered extensive expertise in extradition matters. If a federal fugitive is captured in South Florida, that individual will be housed in the Miami Federal Detention Center until the federal court with jurisdiction completes the extradition process returning the fugitive to the location where he or she will face charges. If the fugitive has local or state charges pending, the defendant will be housed at the Miami-Dade County Jail until the jurisdiction from where the offense originated decides whether or not they wish to spend funds and manpower to pick-up and deliver the fugitive. Other cases involving fugitives involve military law. Active duty soldiers from the Army, Navy. Air Force or Marines are regularly wanted for the charges of Absent Without Leave (AWOL) or Desertion. Once a military unit declares a soldier AWOL, an arrest warrant will soon there after issue. Any service member picked up on this type of warrant is typically held in local custody until picked up by the military. As a Miami military lawyer, is has become evident that the current state of our military forces has caused an increased number of AWOL and desertion charges.

Anyone arrested on out-of-state or military warrant will be taken to the Miami-Dade County Jail and will appear at a bond hearing the following day. The judge will review the jail card and determine that a hold from a foreign jurisdiction exists. The judge will place a hold on the file with a no bond hold. The jail card will reflect that the fugitive is to be held until XYZ county or the military releases the hold. Several scenarios can take place. If a fugitive waives extradition, the local, state or military authorities have approximately two weeks to come to Miami and pick up the fugitive. The out-of-state jurisdictional authorities can ask for an extension of time which will be granted by the court. Therefore, the fugitive may be held up to 30 days in jail without a bond. If the 30 days passes, the fugitive will most likely be released barring extraordinary circumstances.

If you or a loved one is being held with a bond in the Dade County Jail on an out of jurisdiction case, contact a Miami extradition lawyer. A Miami criminal attorney experienced in extradition matters may be able to provide assistance. Depending on the severity of the offense, an out of state jurisdiction may agree to set a bond in lieu of spending time and money on retrieving a fugitive. A lawyer will contact the prosecutor's office in the jurisdiction where the offense is alleged to have occurred and negotiate setting a bond. Once the prosecutor agrees to the bond, that information will be transferred to Miami where the jail card will be amended to reflect the bond. In military case, a well-versed Miami military lawyer will contact the appropriate military installation AWOL apprehension unit and have them agree to the release of hold. The armed service will also provide an airline ticket to the installation of their choice. Most of the time, service members will be required to return to the unit from where they last reported for duty. Even if a fugitive is being held without a bond, there are solutions to the problem which will not require them to remain in custody for up to a month.

Lasso many in South Florida, The Palm Beach Post, January 21, 2010.