What is a Fugitive from Justice?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 February 2020
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A fugitive from justice is a person who flees from a particular jurisdiction in order to avoid prosecution for his crimes. For example, a person who has been accused of kidnapping may flee to another country, state, or region to avoid trial and possible conviction. Usually, the person who flees is the one who fears conviction and punishment for the crime. In some cases, however, a witness can be considered a fugitive from justice. In such a situation, a person may flee to avoid testifying in a criminal case.

In some cases, a fugitive from justice may attempt to escape the law by fleeing to another jurisdiction within the same country. Sometimes this works, but often it does not. This is because law officials may seek fugitive warrants in other jurisdictions, facilitating the arrest of the criminal in the place to which he fled.

A fugitive from justice may also flee to another country. This can prove more problematic for law enforcement officials, especially if a fugitive has fled to a country that is across an ocean. It is not impossible, however, to apprehend a criminal who has done so. There are law enforcement organizations that have authority in investigating and arresting those who flee across country borders. The country seeking to arrest the individual does have to depend on the other country's cooperation in sending the criminal back to stand trial in the original country, however.


Besides fugitive warrants, there are other mechanisms in place for catching those who choose to run from the law. For example, there are television shows that provide details about fugitives, encouraging ordinary citizens to be alert for fugitives and notify law enforcement officials of their whereabouts. Likewise, other media outlets, including those on the Internet, may be used to provide photos of those who are wanted by the law.

Bounty hunters also play an important role in catching fugitives from justice. Bounty hunters track down criminals and haul them back to court in exchange for a monetary reward. These people usually work for bail bondsmen who paid bail for accused criminals before they fled. The bail bondsmen hire bounty hunters in order to make sure the criminals show up for court, which enables the bail bondsmen to recoup their money. In many places, licensed bounty hunters are allowed to carry guns and break into a criminal's residence in order to apprehend him.


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