Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

When in a foreign country, U.S. citizens are subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which often differ significantly from those in the U.S. and may not afford the same protections that are available in the United States. Foreign countries’ judicial systems and respect for certain rights are also likely to be quite different than what citizens expect in the United States.

In the event of an arrest, American citizens and/or friends and relatives of American citizens are encouraged to notify the Embassy or Consulate General so that a consular visit can be arranged. While a consular visit is not intended to arrange for a prisoner’s release or provide legal counsel, it does allow a consular officer to meet with American citizen prisoners in order to monitor their physical and mental well-being, to inquire about mistreatment or abuse, to ensure that their treatment is in accordance with conventions in force and commonly accepted international standards, to provide information on the local legal system and a list of local lawyers, to ascertain if medical care is needed, and to facilitate contact with family and friends as requested by the prisoner. Family or friends can send money to incarcerated individuals through the State Department.