Fugitive-Dismissal Rule Law and Legal Definition

Fugitive dismissal rule is a principle that an appellate court may dismiss a criminal defendant's appeal if the defendant is a fugitive. In other words, an accused who attempted to escape justice after conviction forfeited the right to appeal.

Enforceability is not the only explanation for the fugitive dismissal rule. An additional justification for dismissal of an escaped prisoner's pending appeal is that there exists no persuasive reason why a court should proceed to adjudicate the merits of a criminal case after the convicted defendant who has sought review escapes from the restraints placed upon him pursuant to the conviction. While such an escape does not strip the case of its character as an adjudicable case or controversy, it disentitles the defendant to call upon the resources of the court for determination of his claims. The rule allowing dismissal of fugitives' appeals has rested in part on enforceability concerns, and in part on a "disentitlement" theory that construes a defendant's flight during the pendency of his appeal as tantamount to waiver or abandonment. [Ortega-Rodriguez v. United States, 507 U.S. 234 (U.S. 1993)]