Thailand is a nice place to visit unless you are spending your holiday in one of its infamous jails. Our law firm was recently contacted by a foreign national in one of Bangkok notorious overcrowded jails. The foreign nationals was provided a court appointed attorney but the foreign national could not communicate with the attorney. The attorney did not speak English. He was in jail for two months waiting for trial. The foreign national was desperate for our help. This happens often. Foreign nationals find themselves in Thai jails for violating Thai criminal’s laws.
What should a foreign national do if they find themselves in jail?
- They need to locate an experienced local criminal attorney who speaks in a language that foreign understands. An attorney who cannot communicate with the client will have difficulty representing the client.
- The local consulate should be informed of the presence of the foreign national. The local consulate do not have the power to take the foreign national out of jail. However they will inform their friends and family. Their family and friends can locate someone local who can help the foreign national out of jail.
- A suspect has the right to remain silent. It is a good idea to remain silent until they are represented by a local attorney. The foreign national can complicate the issue if they talk without a full understanding Thai law.
- There is plea bargaining in Thailand but it occurs with the local police and not with the government prosecutors. In Thailand, there is no prosecutorial discretion to reduce criminal penalties in exchange for a guilty plea. Negotiation on the criminal charge can occur with the police. Do not plea bargain until an attorney has reviewed the evidence.
- The foreign national may be eligible for bail. The bail can be paid at the police station immediately for minor cases. For serious charges, the bail can be very high or unavailable because of flight risk. In these cases, the defendant will have to wait for their first court appearance.
- If the foreign national is arrested for a drug offense and the offense has a potential penalty of imprisonment exceeding three years, the criminal investigator may ask the suspect to consent to a drug test. It is the suspect’s decision whether to submit to the drug test. However, a refusal to take a drug test can be used as evidence in court.
The best advice is to stay out of trouble. Stay away from illegal drugs, control the use of legal substances, and remain clear of the red light districts of Thailand. If you do get into criminal trouble, contact our experienced English speaking Thai attorneys.