When you are in a another country, you are subject to their laws, and American government officials are limited in power as to how they can help you. Ffor instance, they can't represent you in legal proceedings or pay for your legal expenses. They can, however, help in a variety of vital services, including giving you a list of lawyers, helping you contact your family in the U.S., helping you get money fromyour family in the U.S., and monitoring your health and welfare and the conditions under which you are being detained.
If you are arrested in a foreign country, you should ask to speak to a consular officer at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Under international treaties, the a foreign government has the right to provide consular assistance to you upon your request.
Special Warning About Drug Offenses Abroad
Every year, several hundred Americans are arrested overseas on drug charges. . In many countries, the burden of proof is on the accused to show that he or she is innocent of the charges.
A drug arrest abroad is very different than U.S. . For example:
- some countries provide a jury trial
- release on bail is not always permitted
- prisons may lack amenities, such as beds, toilets, and washbasins
- pre-trial detention can last several months
- they may not speak English
- physical abuse, degrading treatment is possible.
- penalties for drug possession and for drug trafficking are usually the same