Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Enroll in STEP to receive urgent updates:

Arrest of a U.S. Citizen Abroad

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned.

If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, possibly convicted and sentenced, and for any appeals process. Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a wide variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.

We monitor conditions in foreign prisons and may protest allegations of abuse against U.S. citizen prisoners when requested to do so by the prisoner. We work with prison officials to ensure treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards and to ensure that U.S. citizens are afforded due process under local laws and international standards.

For more information on arrest of a U.S. citizen abroad please go to the Department of State website.

Information for foreigners who have been arrested or are serving a jail sentence in Poland is available on the Prison Authorities website. It is available in English and Polish.