Amanda Knox: Appeals, Double Jeopardy and Extradition


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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.

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