When a state issues an arrest warrant for a person the information is entered into a nationwide database that law enforcement authorities use to access warrant information in other states. This database is known as the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database.
If a person with an outstanding arrest warrant in one state is arrested in another state, the second state will notify the first state. If the arrest warrant in the first state is for a more serious criminal offense than the arrest warrant in the second state, the defendant will generally be extradited to the first state. In other circumstances the states may agree to allow the defendant to stand trial in the second state before being extradited to stand trial on other criminal charges in the first state, for example.
Extradition is the formal process by which a person found in one state is surrendered to another state for trial or punishment. This extradition process between states within the United States—also known as interstate extradition—is mandated by the United States Constitution under Article 4, Section 2, which provides that:
A person charged in any state with treason, felony, or other crime, who shall flee from justice, and be found in another state, shall on demand of the executive authority of the state from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the state having jurisdiction of the crime.
And the United States Congress enacted a statute (18 U.S.C. §3182) that requires a fugitive from justice in one state to be delivered to the executive authority of another state or territory upon demand and proof of indictment:
Whenever the executive authority of any State or Territory demands any person as a fugitive from justice, of the executive authority of any State, District, or Territory to which such person has fled, and produces a copy of an indictment found or an affidavit made before a magistrate of any State or Territory, charging the person demanded with having committed treason, felony, or other crime, certified as authentic by the governor or chief magistrate of the State or Territory from whence the person so charged has fled, the executive authority of the State, District, or Territory to which such person has fled shall cause him to be arrested and secured, and notify the executive authority making such demand, or the agent of such authority appointed to receive the fugitive, and shall cause the fugitive to be delivered to such agent when he shall appear. If no such agent appears within thirty days from the time of the arrest, the prisoner may be discharged.
Many states also have laws that provide for extradition of a person arrested in the state and charged with a crime in another state. These laws are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code, or in the code of criminal procedure.
There are few defenses to extradition, provided the Constitutional and other laws that govern the extradition process are followed. But under some circumstances a defendant may fight or challenge extradition by filing a writ of habeas corpus.