What to Do if You Commit a Crime in a Foreign Country?

Although getting arrested abroad can easily be avoided by being sensible, and more importantly, researching any differences between the country you’re visiting and where you’re from, committing a crime in a foreign country isn’t all that uncommon. Even if you’re the most law-abiding citizen at home, a little drunken revelry or just a misunderstanding of the law in the country you’re in could see you landed in jail.


Finding yourself in trouble with the law in a foreign country is worrying, particularly if you don’t speak the language. If you are arrested after committing a crime in a foreign country, here is what you should do.

1. Ask About Your Rights

Ask the arresting officer for information about your rights in a language you understand. Your rights will vary from country to country. Knowing your rights will help you to plan the best course of action. Also, try to clarify why you have been arrested.

2. Don’t Give Too Much Information

If you can’t imagine what crime you’ve committed, you may try to talk yourself out of an arrest. However, without a full understanding of why you have been arrested and the laws in question, you should keep quiet. You may only be incriminating yourself further.

3. Call Your Embassy

Your embassy won’t usually be able to intervene in the legal practices of their resident country. They will, however, be able to inform you of your rights, usual legal procedures and give you details of a local English-speaking lawyer, all invaluable for securing your release.

4. Instruct a Lawyer

As at home, if you’ve been arrested you want a lawyer by your side as soon as possible. Only they will fully understand the legal ramifications of the arrest and be able to advise you accordingly. Avoid speaking to the police until you have instructed a lawyer.

5. Call Your Family

If you’ve been arrested you need to notify someone in your family. Tell them where you are being detained and on what charges. You should also give them contact details for your lawyer so they are able to keep up to speed on any developments.

6. Don’t Sign Anything

Sometimes, due to corrupt police practices, people have been arrested and then encouraged to sign a document in a language they don’t understand. You could be signing a confession that gives the police grounds to keep you in custody for longer. Don’t sign anything until you have a translator or translated copy of the document in front of you.

7. Don’t Share Information with Other Prisoners

Whilst it can be comforting to talk to other prisoners you come into contact with, keep information about yourself and your case close to your chest. Some prisoners may give you unreliable advice or even pass on sensitive information to the police in order to gain a reduction in their own sentence.

 For any questions or concerns regarding your case please call our office at (786) 358-6888