I was reading an article about a paedophile in Scotland that abused teenagers in the UK but also the USA through the internet. Here is a link to the news story Independent article

Given that some of the victims reside in the United States of America, I was surprised that he was not extradited there. However, from my understanding of Double Jeopardy this should be impossible since he would be punished twice for the same crime.

I found another article where a paedophile from Scotland was not extradited to the USA for the same type of crime, however I could not understand the article. It appears he was kept in Scotland because of his condition more than anything else... scottishlegal article

My question is whether in the UK (England and Wales) somebody could be extradited to the USA for the same offence? What if they had already been charged for it in the UK?

  • 2
    You assume that they would be being extradited for the "same offence" - why? With these sort of offences its typical for the prosecution to only try a small number of specimen charges to gain a conviction - which means other offences may be completely un-prosecuted and thus extradition and prosecution for them would not constitute double jeopardy (as they are not being punished multiple times for the same offence)".
    – user28517
    Jan 7, 2020 at 2:38

3 Answers 3


Multiple victims = multiple crimes

The victim(s) in the USA and Scotland are unlikely to be the same person(s) - a separate crime is committed for each event against each victim.

Double jeopardy is not applicable just as if the person had robbed a bank in the USA and another bank in Scotland.

Notwithstanding, double jeopardy only applies within the same jurisdiction. If the person targeted one US victim once then they have committed a crime in Scotland, a crime in the USA and a crime against the specific US state - each jurisdiction can bring charges.

However, for public policy reasons, jurisdictions are usually satisfied if an alleged perpetrator stand trial somewhere.

  • This isn't true in all jurisdictions. In the US it is, but in several parts of Europe at least it isn't (not sure about Scotland). In 2012 Norway sentenced a mass murderer with 77 attributed killings to a "mere" 21 years in prison because their justice system doesn't stack crimes up like the US system does (though he'd only be out in that time if he's considered to no longer be a threat; a judge can extend it past that point otherwise, and the trial judge remarked the defendant's attitude left the possibility he'd ever be released as remote). Jan 7, 2020 at 6:24
  • 1
    @zibadawatimmy What isn't true? Norway tried the murderer for 77 different crimes. Just because the sentences for those multiple murders don't stack, doesn't make them "the same crime". Jan 7, 2020 at 8:29
  • 3
    @zibadawatimmy You seem to be talking about jurisdictional differences relating to concurrent and consecutive sentences. Like the jurisdictions in the UK, Norway uses concurrent sentences but nevertheless prosecutes each offence or 'count', as Martin says.
    – Lag
    Jan 7, 2020 at 11:58

In U.S. law, double jeopardy is evaluated on a per sovereign basis. Each U.S. state, the U.S. federal government, and each country or region within a country with its own criminal justice system is treated as a separate sovereign for this purpose. So, a prosecution in the U.S. would not violate U.S. double jeopardy law.

There are other reasons that might factor in. Statutes of limitations and limitations on extradition to countries like the U.S. with unusually harsh criminal laws could be reasons for this outcome.

Also, if the defendant is convicted and given a long sentence, U.S officials might decline to prosecute because there is little public benefit in doing so.


So it looks like what happened is that the victims from the U.S. and Canada did offer testimony without physically appearing in Scottish Courts (gotta love technology) so they did contribute to the conviction in that way. What is likely is one of few things: A.) The U.S. and Canadian victims are satisfied with justice in Scotland and don't want to give traumatic testimony for a second time. While the state is the complainant and not the girls, without their testimony, it's rather difficult. B.) Frugal U.S. Prosecutors - In the U.S., the State typically tries crimes first, then the feds, and typically the States Prosecotor's offices have a much smaller bargaining and a wide berth of proprietorial discretion. It's going to cost a lot of money to get the criminal from Scotland to the Americas and that's before we have the trial... It might not be worth it to prosecute and they'll take the win in Scotland. C.) We can wait - It's not like the guy isn't going anywhere in a rush... we can fill out the paper work now, wait for about 9 years, and send it right before he gets out of Scottish Jail. The UK won't let him go out of the country with pending extradition requests for him (especially from it's greatest ally and a nation that has the same "crown" as they do). Who gets first crack at the guy between the U.S. and Canada is for them to work out, but this means that the guy can serve time in Canada and in the U.S. that is automatically consecutive if guilty... and we can make a friendly request for all that evidence the Crown collected to put the guy away. D.) It might not be a crime - Keep in mind that since the U.S. and Canada are Federal Nations, certain elements are not universally applied across the whole of the nation. In the U.S., States set the age of consent independent of the Federal Government (the one that runs out of Washington D.C.). Canada has a similar issue, just sub Provinces for States (and whatever is the Capital of Canada for D.C. I presume their parliament is in an igloo... (just joking here... can't discuss U.S. and Canadian relations without a little friendly ribbing... The Capital is Ottawa btw)).

What this means is that, if the person was of age of consent in the U.S. state at the time of the event, it's not a crime in the U.S. Alternatively, if they were consenting adults under UK or Scottish Law, but not the relevant U.S. or Canadian Jurisdiction, then the U.K. cannot honor an extradition to that jurisdiction, as it's not a crime in the U.K. This is actually quite important in extradition treaties is that the nation receiving the request has to see if it's prosecutor in their own home jurisdiction prior to giving them up (the famous Amanda Knox case, the U.S. refused to extradite Knox to Italy after her acquittal was overturned on appeal, because this was a violation of the U.S.'s ban on Double Jeopardy.).

I suspect that the likely reason (for the U.S. at least) is a combination of options B and C, as the crimes that can be charged (sending lewd material to a minor or solicitation of lewd material) is not as serious as Statutory Rape... it's a couple years in jail at best... and might not be worth the hassle. If it is, they have plenty of time to build their case before the rapist can flee the Scots.

You must log in to answer this question.