There are few things more disturbing than being involved in a criminal incident abroad.  Few people go on holiday and expect to face arrest, but should this happen, for whatever reason, you may have to deal with the language barrier, unfamiliar procedures, isolation and court appearance.

The lawyers in Giambrone's criminal defence teams fully understand how confusing and upsetting this can be, particularly as generally, most people are unaware of their actual rights in a foreign country or whether there are time limits for action or what are the potential sentences that can be handed out.  Laws and legal procedures vary, often quite considerably, from country to country.  Simply because your home country permits certain activities, it should not be assumed that what you can do in your home country is permitted everywhere. 

There can be differences in all aspects of dealing with crime from country to country.  In Italy, for example, there are several types of police force each wearing different uniforms.  The Carabinieri are a special branch of the army mainly dealing with serious crime and criminal organisations.  The State police, Polizia di stato, deal with such things as security on the roads and airports, amongst other things. The Local police, Vigili urbani deal with local traffic control and some minor crime and also there is the Guardia di finanza which is responsible for national and international financial crime including fraud, counterfeiting, tax evasion and smuggling.

Vincenzo Senatore, a partner and highly acclaimed criminal defence lawyer commented "when visiting a foreign country many young people simply think the laws in that country are the same or very similar to their home country, not realising that some actions and behaviour in their home country that would attract little more than a reprimand from a police officer can be subject to a mandatory prison sentence in Italy" he continued "an assault of a sexual nature will attract  a mandatory custodial sentence of six to 12 years, if the case is deemed to be of minor gravity the sentence can only be decreased by two thirds. Often what the perpetrator considers is little more than a prank results in a prison sentence abroad, loss of their job and criminal record."

The recent case involving the death of an Italian policeman at the hands of two American students, Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, illustrates, in glaring terms, how little understanding there was on the part of the young men.  Following the attempt to buy drugs and the subsequent theft of the rucksack owned by an associate of the drug dealer they were apprehended by the two plain-clothed unarmed police officers. Armed with a military knife he had actually brought with him on his trip to Italy, the attacker embarked on a frenzied assault resulting in the death of a police officer and then, by requesting his friend to hide the knife, ensured that his friend would receive as severe a prison sentence as himself, as in Italy accomplices to murder, however, small their part, attract the same level of punishment as the murderer.  The life sentences the young men received were clearly a shock to them.

Giambrone's highly regarded criminal defence lawyers stress the critical importance of obtaining first-rate legal advice from English speaking lawyers at the earliest possible moment, should you find yourself under arrest overseas. Effective and efficient legal assistance abroad to those who find themselves involved in international criminal proceedings can make a considerable difference to the outcome.  Early intervention by an expert criminal defence lawyer could make the difference between being detained or being able to return home.

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.