When crime crosses international borders, the criminal process can be long and drawn out, compounded by the stress of dealing with courts and law enforcement officials in two or more countries. If you are involved in an international crime, an attorney with experience in the area of international criminal law can help you understand the process and protect your rights.
Crimes Committed Overseas
Criminals in different countries often target tourists and other visitors. These criminals operate on the theory that a foreign visitor may not know how to deal with local law enforcement, or may be unable to make a meaningful identification of someone of a different race or ethnicity. Foreign visitors often are hesitant to initiate proceedings out of a reluctance to return to a foreign nation to testify in a court proceeding.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, you should report the matter to local law enforcement officials. You also should contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The U.S. has consular officers in over 250 cities around the world that are available to assist Americans who are victims of a crime. This assistance may include:
- Contacting family, friends and employers in the United States to let them know about your situation
- Helping to find medical care or other emergency assistance
- Explaining the local justice system to you
- Replacing a stolen passport
- Helping to find a local lawyer who speaks English
- Providing information about victim assistance programs both in the foreign country and in the U.S., including victim compensation programs
Consular officials may not provide legal representation. It is also beyond the scope of their duties to try to influence local officials to take action or to speed up the process.
Crimes Committed in the United States
A crime committed in the United States will be investigated and prosecuted by either federal or state authorities, depending upon the nature and location of the crime committed. If the person who committed the crime leaves the U.S., he or she may be subject to extradition proceedings once he or she is located. Extradition is a complicated process that involves several layers of bureaucracy. Local law enforcement must make a request to the Justice Department, which forwards the request to the State Department. The request then is sent to U.S. diplomatic personnel overseas, who forward the request to the foreign government.
Extradition proceedings can take a long time. There are a number of different factors that can influence an extradition proceeding. For example, many governments will not extradite a person to the U.S. unless they are assured that the death penalty will not be sought. Other countries will not extradite their citizens at all.
Speak to a Criminal Lawyer
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in a foreign country or is subject to an extradition order, contact experienced attorney Frank A. Rubino, Esq. Call his Miami and Houston offices toll free at 866-718-3994, or complete our contact form.