How to Avoid Getting Arrested and Convicted When Traveling Abroad

How to Avoid Getting Arrested and Convicted When Traveling Abroad

Before traveling to another country for work or pleasure, one of the first things you might want to do is research the local laws and regulations. The laws in your destination could be different from the ones back home, and you might inadvertently commit transgressions that could land you in serious trouble. Actions permitted at home could be a definite no-no in a foreign country. For instance, a basic thing like flying with edible items could be banned for aliens entering their country. Here’s some more info on how to avoid getting arrested when traveling.

Check Government Resources

Statistics show that more than 3,000 Americans are incarcerated each year in foreign countries. The U.S. Department of State–Bureau of Consular Affairs has an official travel advisory, alerts, and other details like local laws and customs to ensure the security and safety of US citizens traveling abroad. Take the time to check their website for the destination you intend to travel to, and comply with the rules. For instance, if you’re visiting Dubai, remember to wear clothing that extends below the knees and refrain from playing loud music in public or using profanity when speaking. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an offense that could land you in prison right away.

Check with Your Rental Landlords

If you’re planning on staying in a private home for the trip, check with the landlord for vital information you should have. Most people use vacation rental software to provide details like the attractions and facilities nearby and might have tips on conducting yourself while in their city. Even if they don’t, reach out to them and request the dos and don’ts to follow. They’ll happily oblige because it is in their interests that you have a wonderful time and stay safe on your tour.

What if You Get Arrested

The American government is committed to assisting its citizens in foreign locations and will ensure that you get “fair and humane” treatment. Accordingly, if you get arrested, request the police officers to contact the local US consulate or embassy right away. Keep in mind that Article 36(a) of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 mandates local officers to contact the defendant’s consulate only if the accused expressly requests it. The embassy will connect you with a trained criminal defense lawyer who’ll represent you in court and provide an overview of how the local judicial system works. You can count on the embassy to inform your loved ones back home about the situation.

Whatever may be the charges, you will have to face the proceedings per the country’s laws. The consulate will ensure that you get any medical care you need along with books, vitamins, and dietary supplements. They’ll also monitor your living conditions and prevent threats of abuse. Rest assured that regular updates of your case will be sent to the Department of State. But, that’s just about the extent of the support you can expect from the American authorities.

Typically, drug crimes are the most severe. Anyone found guilty of carrying on their person, using, or trafficking illegal drugs can expect prosecution, fines, and jail terms. 

What to Do Next

Having informed the US embassy, your next step is to retain a lawyer. Also, request the law officers to provide you with a list of your legal rights in writing. Your family can assist you with funds and info through the consulate. However, whatever fees, medical costs, and other expenses you incur will have to be paid out of your pocket. Don’t expect the consulate to represent you, demand your release, or prove that you’re innocent of the charges. If you need translators to communicate, you’ll make your arrangements. Though, certain countries may provide you with trained people to understand the proceedings.

Getting arrested and accused of crimes in a foreign country can leave you confused and terrified of the consequences. Your best bet is to avoid such situations, but if they do happen, you can rely on the local consulate to assist you in finding an experienced lawyer to help.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.