British Woman Sentenced in Florida DUI Manslaughter Case Years After Fleeing U.S.

Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins

In October 2005, British citizen Richen Turner was driving while her BAC was three times the legal limit in Broward County, Florida when she was involved in a crash that took the life of 39-year-old Peter Cambra.  Turner, who did get some minor injuries in the crash, fled to Great Britain shortly after the crash and remained there for the next seven years.  She was tracked down by a private investigator hired by Cambra’s family and was extradited back to the U.S. in 2013 after a lengthy legal fight.  She was found guilty of DUI manslaughter in Florida and was sentenced to six years in prison on March 13. 

According to the state department, with the latest extradition treaty between the U.S. and Great Britain, there have been 130 extradition requests made by the U.S., 10 of those have been denied.  77 of those cases resulted in defendants being transported back to the United States for trial, while the others went through the British legal system to answer for their crimes.  Turner was one of those sent to the United States for trial.

Unlike extradition between states, where there are laws in place that pretty much guarantee a person caught in one state is transported to the one they are facing trial, international extradition is not guaranteed and is a complex matter of international law.  For an international extradition, there has to be a treaty between the two countries that dictates how a person charged with a crime in one country will be sent back there if caught in another.  How each extradition is handled depends on the treaty between the two countries and each extradition can be different.

While many people are under the assumption that escaping to another country after committing a crime means they will not be punished, this is not the case.  The U.S. has treaties with the majority of other countries.  This means that it is possible to be sent back if you leave the U.S. after committing a crime.

Because some countries have different treaties, there may be different limitations on how a criminal defendant’s legal process will work.  Most notably are some countries refusing to extradite defendants facing the death penalty.  Canada, Australia and almost all of Europe will not extradite someone who is facing the death penalty, meaning that when a fugitive facing the death penalty is found in those countries, the prosecutor has to take that off the table as a sentencing option. 

When it comes to our specific treaty with Great Britain, there are not that many restrictions on extraditing fugitives back to the U.S.  As with the rest of Europe, extradition will not be done in a death penalty case.  Otherwise, it appears that if the crime a person is charged with in the United States is also a crime in Great Britain, extradition would likely be allowed.  DUI manslaughter, or at least some close relative of it, is a crime in both the United States and Great Britain, meaning that Turner was properly extradited back to Florida.