Though drawn as a penal statute, and therefore permitting prosecution by the Federal government for its violation, the primary purpose of the Fugitive Felon Act is to permit the Federal government to assist in the location and apprehension of fugitives from state justice. No prior Criminal Division approval is required to authorize unlawful flight complaints in aid of the states.
The Act does not supersede nor is it an alternative for state extradition proceedings. Normally, the federal complaint will be dismissed when the fugitive has been apprehended and turned over to state authorities to await interstate extradition. Thus, an unlawful flight complaint should not be filed in cases in which the location of the fugitive is already known by state authorities unless the location was ascertained through active investigation conducted, or participated in, by the FBI or other federal investigative agency, and the warrant request is made by that agency.
Since the primary purpose of the Act is to assist the states in apprehending fugitives from state justice, the Act should not be applied to the interstate or international flight of federal fugitives.
[cited in JM 9-69.400]