Myths of Extradition

“I can defeat an extradition.”

Just the other day a woman wrote me explaining that her husband wanted to fire his lawyer, but she would not let him. “You can beat the extradition,” she exclaimed. “The lawyer told me you can.” You can’t. If you are the individual the gringos want, and you have not already been tried in Colombia, you will be brought to the U.S. It is that simple. However, the faster that happens, the quicker you can resolve your problem.

The wife in my story said she did not want her husband to leave Colombia. But when faced with extradition, one must put sentimentality aside. The sooner her husband leaves for the United States, the quicker he comes home.

“The gringos might not file their indictment in time.”

They will. These gringos are efficient and have a procedure in place to make sure that their indictments are timely filed.

“My lawyer promised me I would only get three years.”

Lawyers in Federal Courts cannot promise you a particular sentence. No one can, not your investigator, not your paralegal, not your defense counsel, not even your prosecutor. At best it is a prediction. No one can guarantee a sentence. When a defendant pleads guilty, the judge tells the defendant that the Court alone decides the sentence and no prosecutor or defense lawyer can bind him. In fact, the law requires judges to ask defendants if their lawyer or anyone else has made any promises as to what their sentence will be. If a judge does not give you the sentence someone promised, you will not be allowed to take your plea back. If a lawyer or anyone else promises you a sentence, he or she is lying.

“Judges in the U.S. will give you two days credit for every day you serve in Combita.”

Not true. Some judges will not give you any additional credit and some will give you a few months additional credit as a symbolic gesture of your difficult time in Combita. But do not bank on it. The law allows it, but judges rarely give you more credit than the time you have already served.

“Government appointed lawyers work for the government.”

They do not. They work and fight for you. Most government appointed lawyers are young and full of piss and vinegar. True, sometimes they are inexperienced and sometimes they are not interested in criminal law, but they are not lackeys of the government and they are not liars. The only lackeys of the government are private lawyers who try to persuade defendants to cooperate before they have reviewed the evidence. We all know who these lawyers are. They are papaya salesmen, feeding Christians to hungry lions. Sure, sometimes cooperating is your only option, but first find out what the evidence against you is and whether or not it is sufficient to convict you.

David Zapp

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