It’s perhaps not a very pleasant thought to entertain, but one which is indeed necessary to at least make provision for, that being preparing for one of the worst things that could happen to a traveller in getting into trouble with the law while you’re abroad. You should at least have a plan, however slight that plan may be, but you should definitely not write it off completely as something that could simply never happen to you as a law abiding citizen with nothing but good intentions all round.
Conduct Prior Research
Most travellers have a hard time thinking about what they would do if they were indeed banged up abroad for some reason, mostly because they see it as somewhat of a possible self-fulfilling prophesy and an act of tempting fate to think about such. Either way, you should endeavour to at least familiarise yourself with the procedures surrounding legal prosecution and how crimes and suspected criminals are handled in the country you’re planning to visit. You should also have a clear definition of what is legal and what is illegal, with some of the most obvious cases perhaps not needing to be mentioned.
I mean everybody knows that things like drugs are illegal, but in some countries and states drugs such as cannabis are legal. If that’s up your alley, then you need to make doubly sure you are completely up-to-speed with the local laws, such as the fact that marijuana is only legal in some states and generally not throughout the entire country. Never ever attempt to cross borders with any form of recreational drugs, including alcohol which is illegal in some countries, but these are things you can find out by doing some research.
If in doubt, contact the tourism board of the country you’re visiting for some clarity and keep all correspondence as evidence.
Contact Your Embassy
Okay so what if it’s too late for you to ‘conduct prior research’ and you already find yourself in a bit of a legal situation? Naturally cases differ in their severity, with something like being drunk and disorderly landing you a little bit of time in the sin bin until you sober up again, while something like being charged for culpable homicide bearing the potential to mess up your holiday and perhaps even your entire life. These things differ from country to country and while spending some time behind bars in one country may make for just another experience to look back on tell stories about, in other countries prison is a living hell on earth!
In the event that you find yourself in some hot water, legally, get some local legal representation, but do so via your embassy because unfortunately many legal representatives are prone to take advantage of the rather desperate situation foreigners who are in trouble with the law find themselves in. Once you’ve managed to get local legal representation via your embassy (your embassy may even advise you on how best to proceed), you should perhaps have that local legal team liaise with your legal team back home to be able to build a character background that may help your case.
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