Amanda Knox: Appeals, Double Jeopardy and Extradition

Could Amanda Knox be sent back to Italy, even though United States Law prohibits double jeopardy? Image by Scott335

Could Amanda Knox be sent back to Italy, even though United States Law prohibits double jeopardy? Image by Scott335

Can Amanda Knox be Extradited to Italy?

Under Italian law, a criminal defendant does not have to be present at their trial, so the retrial can proceed without her. If the court wants her there, they could cite her for contempt of court if she fails to appear, which is not a serious matter in Italy. Since her attendance would not be mandatory even if she was physically in Italy, her extradition from the United States cannot be sought.

The situation will change if she is convicted of killing Kercher again after a new trial and presumably a new round of appeals. The first requirement, in order to formally extradite an American to a foreign country, is an extradition treaty must exist. A bilateral treaty between the United States and Italy was signed in Rome on October 13, 1983 and came into effect on September 24, 1984.

  • Under Article II of the treaty, one of the requirements to extradite an American to Italy is that the offense or offenses must be such that they are crimes in both states. Obviously murder and sexual assault fit the bill.
  • The second main requirement is that a conviction for the offense must be one where the criminal defendant could lose their liberty for a period of one year or more. While people in both Italy and the United States can be jailed for a year or more after being convicted of murder or sexual assault, that may not resolve the issue in regards to Knox.

Amanda Knox: Back to Italy? Probably Not

The United States could, and undoubtedly Knox’ attorneys would, argue that she could not be convicted and sentenced to a year or more if she were tried in the United States because she was already acquitted of  charges based upon the same facts and double jeopardy attaches.

It seems clear that Knox will not go back to Italy for a trial she does not even have to attend. Under the circumstances, it is too early to tell if she will ever be sent back to Italy to serve her sentence if she is ultimately convicted again.


Associated Press. Key dates in the Amanda Knox case. (2013). Accessed March 26, 2013.

CBC. Italian court orders new trial for Amanda Knox. (2013). Accessed March 26, 2013.

Legal Information Institute. Fifth Amendment. (2013). Accessed March 26, 2013.

International Extradition Blog. Bilateral Extradition Treaties, Treaty with Italy [PDF]. (1984). Accessed March 26, 2013.

© Copyright 2013 Arthur Weinreb, All rights Reserved. Written For: Decoded Science


  1. Hillary Corby says

    It’s my understanding that if she is convicted again and is not extradited to Italy, Interpol will issue a warrant for her arrest which will, essentially, make her a prisoner in the US because if she leaves, she will be arrested and returned to Italy. Her best bet is to be acquitted. I live in Italy, and there is no double jeopardy here. Also, her case is considered a continuation, not a re-trial so double jeopardy does not exist either.
    I am a crime fiction writer that has been living in Italy for 5 years and I specialize in Italian crime.

    • JLS1950 says

      It must be understood that the Constitution of the United States of America and the Bill Of Rights which includes the Fifth Amendment thereto are all LEGALLY SUPERIOR to the U.S.-Italy extradition treaty, and that the treaty does not and MUST NOT attempt to overrule the provisions of the Fifth Amendment. Moreover, it must be understood that The U.S. Constitution and the Federal Court System are prohibited from
      even “caring” how the legal system in Italy works except in terms of answering the questions presented in the treaty: e.g. what are the remaining and effective avenues of appeal following trial in absentia.

      All that the U.S. Courts are permitted to care about is whether Knox was placed in jeopardy before an Italian court (e.g. was a jury empaneled or a witness sworn in a bench trial) and whether that jeopardy “completed” (e.g. did a jury return a verdict of acquittal or was the defendant released from custody for time served.) If these conditions are determined to have been met, then the U.S. Federal Court and all U.S.
      officials are constrained by the Double Jeopardy Clause that they NOT act to allow that Knox “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb”. It has nothing to do with Italian legal principles or practice: it is an absolute constraint on what the U.S. Federal Government is permitted to do.

      Recall that even the UK refused to extradite a Polish national back to his native Poland in 2011 on grounds of double jeopardy.

      This matter is so fundamental to American principles of jurisprudence and civil rights that if the conditions of the treaty were actually found to conflict with the Fifth Amendment (and I do not believe they do: I believe they clearly allow for this exception) then SCOTUS might have no alternative than to void the entire treaty as unconstitutional. This is likely not a battle that Italy would come out of unbloodied.

      And the fact is that this continual PR campaign being waged by or on behalf of Italian authorities to convince Americans of Knox’s “guilt” based on half-baked and contrived junk-science “evidence” is really grating on the nerves of Americans, who are beginning to see this entire case as a matter of Italy attempting to “punish” the sins of the American government – particularly under certain prior administrations – by loading them all onto the shoulders of just ONE innocent American college coed and slandering both her and her entire family and all her friends and supporters. The longer this goes on, the more Americans are becoming fed up with Italian “justice” and indeed Italy itself.

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