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Extradition can be a delicate matter even when treaties exist

Readers in the Twin Cities have surely seen the headlines touting that U.S. authorities have caught an individual on one of Washington's Most Wanted lists. According to reports, the man is facing 59 counts of sexual assault in Minnesota. The allegations include that the young female victims were part of a Minnesota-based cult led by the 52-year-old suspect and that the abuse took place over the span of a decade.

The U.S. Marshal's Service says police in Brazil arrested the man last week. Now the process of extradition begins. It's not clear how long that might take.

Learning of these developments has prompted conversation in some quarters about extradition. Questions asked included whether Brazil even had an extradition treaty with the United States. As one local TV station's news operation would say, good question.

Information from the Organization of American States confirms that extradition protocols are in place between the United States and Brazil and have been for some time. What that means is that, at least in this instance, the laws in the two countries regarding the alleged criminal behavior apparently are in alignment, making the turnover of a suspect possible.

But that may not always be the case. It is well known that France and Switzerland have extradition treaties with the United States. And yet, both of those countries have refused to extradite movie director Roman Polanski to the U.S. to face punishment for unlawfully having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The crime occurred in 1977 and Polanski pleaded guilty, but he left the U.S. before being sentenced.

The thing for readers to take away from this is that when facing criminal charges of any kind, the help of experienced legal counsel can be crucial.

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