Everyone looks forward to their dream foreign holiday and the opportunity to relax but for some people, it ends in the nightmare of arrest abroad.  Obviously, there are many reasons why this may happen and not all of them are necessarily the fault of the detained person.  One of the biggest causes of arrest problems is not understanding the language when being apprehended by the police which can easily lead to arrest if you are perceived as not cooperating.  In Spain, if a person ignores an instruction given by a police officer he can regard it as "disobedience" which is a criminal offence. The language barrier can also be responsible for being drawn into arguments with the local people that get out of hand and escalate into violence. 

Another area that can lead to problems is not understanding the local laws and inadvertently breaching them.  Laws can vary considerably from country to country and behaviour that may be regarded as tolerable or a minor breach in one country may have an entirely different implication elsewhere. An example of the differing attitudes is that individuals can jump into the fountains in Trafalgar Square in London without any problem whereas it is illegal to cool off by getting into the Trivoli fountain.  Heritage buildings must be respected, women are not permitted to wear stiletto heels when visiting the Parthenon, climbing on or writing on the walls of such buildings is illegal in a number of countries and amounts to criminal damage.

The cities in some countries that are tourist magnets do not permit picnics or even standing or sitting for too long in a popular spot.  Venice has a long list of things that it asks visitors not to do, including swimming in the canals, staying too long on the bridges, getting changed in public or sightseeing topless or in swimwear; offenders are fined.  Also, laws change, for example drinking in the street was a tradition in Barcelona, Madrid and other cities in Spain, people gathered in certain public places to drink.  The law has now changed due to excessive behaviour and it is illegal to drink in public.

If you find yourself in the regrettable position of being detained abroad the first thing you will need is legal representation, it is highly recommended that you seek the assistance of a lawyer that can speak your language and the language of the country that you are under arrest and also understands the culture and knows how to approach the authorities on your behalf.  This can make a significant difference to your situation, depending on the reason for the arrest.  Often due procedure has not been followed which enables your lawyer to obtain your release, something that you would not discover on your own.   A capable criminal lawyer can present mitigating circumstances on your behalf and a decision to not pursue the matter is taken and you are free to go.  Most countries can offer you a lawyer from their panel of lawyers but they are highly unlikely to have offices in the UK and if you are released to return home but your case leads to a trial, you will have the convenience of dealing with the same lawyers and receiving legal advice in the UK.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.