Double Criminality Law and Legal Definition

Double criminality is a crime punished in both the country where a suspect is being held and a country asking for the suspect to be handed over or transferred to stand trial. It is also known as dual criminality. Double criminality is a requirement in extradition procedures as extradition is allowed only for offenses alleged as crimes in both jurisdictions. “For purposes of determining double criminality in an international extradition case, the court must look to proscription by similar criminal provisions of federal law or, if none, the law of the place where the petitioner is found or, if none, the law of the preponderance of the states. A broad interpretation of the requirement of dual criminality is followed: The law does not require that the name by which the crime is described in the two countries shall be the same, nor that the scope of the liability shall be coextensive, or, in other respects, the same in the two countries. It is enough if the particular act charged is criminal in both jurisdictions. The fact that a particular act is classified differently or that different requirements of proof are applicable in the two countries does not defeat extradition.” Heilbronn v. Kendall, 775 F. Supp. 1020 (W.D. Mich. 1991)

In an international extradition case, it is not essential that the two statutes be perfectly harmonious for the purpose of double criminality. Double criminality exists if the necessary character of the criminal acts of each country is same and if the laws are substantially similar.

“It is a fundamental requirement of international extradition that the crime for which extradition is sought be one provided for by the treaty between the requesting and the requested nation. The second determination is whether the conduct is illegal in both countries.” Heilbronn v. Kendall, 775 F. Supp. 1020 (W.D. Mich. 1991)