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What If You Committ A Minor Crime In A Foreign Country?

What If You Committ A Minor Crime In A Foreign Country?

Old May 21, 08, 11:15 pm
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What If You Committ A Minor Crime In A Foreign Country?

What if you get caught speeding, or shoplifting, or committing any other "small" crime in a foreign country as a tourist?

Will the police be more willing to make you pay a fine rather than appear in court since you are a tourist? Or can they force you to return to the country at a later date to face the charges in a minor court?
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Old May 21, 08, 11:24 pm
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Originally Posted by Delta767 View Post
What if you get caught speeding, or shoplifting, or committing any other "small" crime in a foreign country as a tourist?

Will the police be more willing to make you pay a fine rather than appear in court since you are a tourist? Or can they force you to return to the country at a later date to face the charges in a minor court?
I've been caught speeding a few times. In most occasions, they simply let me go with a terse warning, other times, a few dollars is what it took. I've never stolen anything or other "small" crime except public intoxication.
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Old May 21, 08, 11:24 pm
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Don't consider anything minor.

Malaysia is among several countries that may execute you for drug offenses. Protesting about being imprisoned for shoplifting will likely fall on deaf ears.

Just act honestly. Hope you don't get falsely arrested.
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Old May 22, 08, 12:46 am
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I think it very much depends on the country. Some countries are more strict than others. The police in some countries can have very different attitudes, such as:
- very strict, 100% by the book (Germany, Holland,...)
- hungry for bribes (some Eastern Europe countries, Mexico,...)
- very confused when dealing with foreigners, likely to let you off with a warning rather than bother with a situation that is over their heads
- also confused when dealing with foreigners, but likely to result in a negative attitude (the US)
- etc.

Beware of countries where people are encouraged to report any and all crimes; in some places it's a civic duty. Switzerland is notorious for that. I have a friend who got in trouble because someone saw him run a red light and called the cops.

797-3: I think that in most countries drug offenses are a serious crime and by no means "small".
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Old May 22, 08, 1:25 am
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Some countries... mostly speaking Asia and Oceania here... officials will come up with reasons to try to get bribes out of you. There is one country that I transit that I swear to god they try to get a bribe out of me every time I friggin transit the country and it's from the customs officials. Getting arrested in the countries I go to it takes either a bribe, or a heartfelt apology. Also do the apology first and act remorseful. Even if you not think you did anything wrong you might have acted wrong in their eyes. Just my POV.
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Old May 22, 08, 8:04 am
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I was stopped for speeding and passing in a no-pass zone in Costa Rica (at least it was a no-pass zone according to the police office). He told me it was typically a combined 50,000 colones fine ($100) at the courthouse, but he'd let me off for 30,000 and could take the money and do the paperwork without the trip into town.

I opened my wallet with 20,000 (the rest was in my pants pocket) and told him that was all I had. He took it, smiled, and told me to have a nice day.
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Old May 22, 08, 8:09 am
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In Japan make sure they see your big round eyes and most of the time they'll think you're too dumb to know different, so they might let you go.

In HKG don't do anything to wind up in the Wan Chai police station at 3 AM. It's a scary place.
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Old May 22, 08, 9:21 am
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Originally Posted by florin View Post
Beware of countries where people are encouraged to report any and all crimes; in some places it's a civic duty. Switzerland is notorious for that. I have a friend who got in trouble because someone saw him run a red light and called the cops.
.
I don't quite agree here. First we are not that bad and second your "friends" story sounds like any urban legend. And the police need proof as in most other countries to actually do something to you.

W
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Old May 22, 08, 10:08 am
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Caught speeding in Austrailia back in 2001 and the police man told me I could pay the ticket at any town .( I forgot which place I paid it at, City hall, police station ,library,etc,) He also told me that if I did not pay the ticket my name goes into a databank and if I ever return for another visit, I would not be allowed in the counrty. Do not if that is true or not, I paid the ticket. At that time I think the conversion rate was 2 for 1 in my favor.
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Old May 22, 08, 10:11 am
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In Singapore they will probably hit you with a bamboo stick 10 times and send you home.

As said in a posting above. There are countries who have different opinion about what a "minor crime" is. Many countries are especially not very forgiving when it comes to drugs. As little the amount may be you will be fully prosecuted and if you are lucky you just spend a couple of years in jail. If you are not so lucky you only get granted a last wish.
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Old May 22, 08, 10:50 am
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Originally Posted by caspritz78 View Post
In Singapore they will probably hit you with a bamboo stick 10 times and send you home.

As said in a posting above. There are countries who have different opinion about what a "minor crime" is. Many countries are especially not very forgiving when it comes to drugs.
Another area of strict enforcement (although not as bad as carrying drugs) is DUI, especially in most of Western Europe and Scandnavia. There is zero tolerence, and fines can be very stiff.... You can expect random checks along the highways at times, and you had better blow clean.

Luckily I've never had an experience myself to prove it out, but have been warned often when driving a rental car......
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Old May 22, 08, 11:06 am
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In some countries like Spain & Greece you'd be locked up until the trial - which could be a couple of years in the future
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Old May 22, 08, 11:11 am
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Originally Posted by caspritz78 View Post
Many countries are especially not very forgiving when it comes to drugs. As little the amount may be you will be fully prosecuted and if you are lucky you just spend a couple of years in jail. If you are not so lucky you only get granted a last wish.
And this is a bad thing? It's a bad idea to have strict laws about drugs? I wouldn't think that drug possession or usage would constitute a minor offense.

Originally Posted by wb8iny View Post
Another area of strict enforcement (although not as bad as carrying drugs) is DUI, especially in most of Western Europe and Scandnavia. There is zero tolerence, and fines can be very stiff.... You can expect random checks along the highways at times, and you had better blow clean.

Luckily I've never had an experience myself to prove it out, but have been warned often when driving a rental car......
Again... this is a bad thing? Random checks and stiff penalties are good IMHO.


Guess I'm now officially an old over the hill guy or I've spent more years away from America then inside it but I pretty much agree with many foreign country's laws and how they handle it compared to the way the US does. The US takes too long to handle cases, and is way too lenient.


The only thing the US does well that other countries do not do well in.... is that many officials in Asia / Oceania just take a bribe and make up reasons to try to penalize people because they are seen as rich foreigners. Of course I am starting to think of it is a cost of doing business overseas as it is common place and once you show them that you're not buying what they are offering and you know how to counter act their bluff you can stop paying these bribes and shake downs. You run the risk of being held up and sometimes it is worth it just to pay the bribe, and in many cases it's a few USD and these folks make squat all but it is the principal to me that they should not be shaking down tourists...
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Old May 22, 08, 11:17 am
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Originally Posted by florin View Post

Beware of countries where people are encouraged to report any and all crimes;

But I like living in the US.
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Old May 22, 08, 11:55 am
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Be very careful to check local laws. When you arrive at Manila, there are signs that say drug traffickers will receive the death penalty. Some middle east countries will imprison you for very small amounts of pot (any idiot who brings pot probably deserves it) and even what we think of as innocent over the counter products like Afrin is a crime over there. Even Japan will not allow certain pharmaceuticals to be brought in, I knew a girl who was visiting in Japan and had cancer and brought prescription pain medicine into Japan and spent 2 weeks in jail there before being released and suffered through 2 weeks of withdrawal from prescribed narcotics that are illegal in Japan.

Again, you have to check any countries' laws before you go, if you think shoplifting is a minor crime here in the west, you could probably have a hand amputated in some middle eastern countries for the same offense.
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