Fled US with an Open Criminal Case

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I Fled U.S. With an Open Criminal Case, And Now Want to Come Back, What Do I Do?

A very common question that we get as criminal defense attorneys is what a client should do after they fled US with an open criminal case and are now looking to come back to the United States. Before you decide to get on a flight back, it is important that you do some planning ahead of time. This is the typical order of steps that happen in representing the client who fled US with an open criminal case.

Hire Experienced Criminal Counsel

The very first thing you should do once you decide to come back to the United States is to retain experienced counsel, who has previously handled these types of cases. Your attorney will be able to retrieve your court file either from Pacer (for federal cases) or from the Clerk’s Office (for state cases). Unfortunately, New York State does not have an online look up for criminal cases.

Review of the Case File

Your criminal counsel will review your case file to determine what you are charged with and what your sentencing exposure is for the charges. Additionally, your attorney will be able to determine if you have additional charges pending against you for leaving the jurisdiction. These charges are called bail jumping, and involve leaving the jurisdiction while your case is pending. Although the charge is called “bail jumping,” it really doesn’t matter whether you were released on your recognizance, had pre-trial supervision, or had cash or bail bond set on you.

Your attorney will also determine if you have a basis for a dismissal motion pursuant to a speedy trial argument. If the Government is not proactively seeking your return to the jurisdiction to face the charges, your case may be dismissed pursuant to Speedy Trial Provisions.

Make Contact With the U.S. Attorney’s Office

After your attorney gets an opportunity to review the case file, s/he will contact the prosecutor (U.S Attorney’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, or District Attorney’s Office) on your behalf and ascertain the status of the case. In some situations, your attorney will be able to obtain a plea offer on your case.

However, it is important to note that federal prosecutors do not discuss or extend any plea offers while the person is in bench warrant status. That is because they try to discourage pre-shopping the case to determine what the sentencing exposure would be before deciding whether to come back to the jurisdiction. State prosecutors however, do not have a blanket policy regarding refusal to extend or discuss plea offers for clients that are outside the jurisdiction.

It is also helpful for your attorney to figure out what the bail request will be. On federal cases, if the Government is moving for detention, the judge will need to determine whether detention is the only way to accomplish your return to court and the safety of the community. On New York State cases, the Court will need to decide what the least restrictive bail is to assure someone’s return to court. In both situations, it is helpful to know whether the federal government is moving for detention, or what bail amount/remand the state prosecutor is asking for on your case.

Figure Out Whether To Come Back After You Fled US With an Open Criminal Case

Under New York Code of Professional Ethics, your attorney is required to encourage you to return to United States to resolve your criminal case. However, whether you choose to return or not is your decision. With that being said, it helps knowing what you will face if you decide to come back. If you choose not to come back to the United States, you may have to continuously worry about getting picked up on an extradition warrant if the country you’re in has an extradition treaty with the United States. Countries which have an extradition treaty with the United States are listed in 18 U.S.C. 3181.

Come Back to the US and Resolve Your Case

Once you decide to come back to the US to face your open criminal case, your attorney will coordinate with the prosecutor and with the Court scheduling for your case. In theory, you will be detained at the airport because of your open matter and you will then be brought to Court to get the warrant lifted. Then, your case will resume from the point you fled US with an open criminal case.

Additionally, if you have been indicted for bail jumping, you will need to resolve those cases as well. If you have been indicted for bail jumping, any jail time for those charges run consecutively (afterwards) to any jail time on other charges.

Contact Us to Schedule Your Consultation

If you or your loved one have fled the US with an open criminal case and are now looking to come back, you need to retain experienced criminal counsel. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.